North America

Maine potatoes travel far after western drought

Maine’s potato growers had such a bumper crop this past season that they stepped in to help their big brothers out west who were short on spuds.

As reported in this Associated Press news story, farmers from Maine shipped potatoes by rail for the first time in four decades this winter thanks to a strong harvest in the state and heat and dry weather that stymied farmers in renowned potato-growing states like Idaho and Washington. The potatoes made their way more than 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) for processing, riding in climate-controlled rail cars.

All told, 21 million pounds (9.5 million kilograms) of potatoes, virtually all from growers in northern Maine, flowed through a rail-connected warehouse owned by LaJoie Growers LLC. That equates to more than 530 truckloads of potatoes, said co-owner Jay LaJoie.

Most of the Maine potatoes went to processors in Washington state, where much of the french fries and other products are exported. The shipments to Idaho were seed potatoes, including Maine’s Caribou Russet, that’ll be planted this spring.

Chris Voigt from the Washington State Potato Commission said processors were grateful for the potato shipments, but they’re hopeful Maine growers’ services aren’t required in the future.

Source: Associated Press via News Center Maine. Read the full story here
Photo: A worker at Irving Farms in Caribou unloads potatoes into a hopper. Credit: News Center Maine

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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