North America, Sustainability, Trends, Weather/Climate

The looming threat for Maine’s iconic potato industry

So far, climate change has brought mixed news for farmers in Maine. It is linked to warmer temperatures and drought, but also brings more frequent and intense rainfall that can damage crops with rot or soil erosion, as Lori Valigra and Caitlin Looby reports in an article published by Bangor Daily News.

As temperatures have risen, the annual number of potato plant growing degree days in Aroostook County has increased by more than 20 percent since 1970, according to an analysis by Climate Central, a nonadvocacy science and news group.

That extra warmth has helped add an extra week to the end of the typically short Maine potato growing season. But it comes with a suite of challenges, including heat stress, unpredictable rainfall, pest pressure and warmer nights that don’t let potato plants cool off.

“How much of the potato production is impacted depends on the magnitude of these changes and on how variable and inconsistent they are,” Gregory Porter, professor of crop ecology and management at the University of Maine in Orono, said.

Source: Bangor Daily News. Read the full article here
Photo: Maire Lenihan coaxes organic Keuka Gold potatoes into a washing machine at Goranson Farm in Dresden, Maine on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / Bangor Daily News

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