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Maine’s potato ‘acne’ phenomenon: A wet season aftermath

Recent reports from Bangor Daily News have shed light on an intriguing phenomenon affecting the state’s potato harvest. Newly unearthed potatoes are presenting with peculiar skin blemishes, reminiscent of teenage acne, as Julia Bayly reports in a news story for Bangor Daily News (BDN).

These white protrusions, scientifically termed as “lenticels,” have become notably prominent on certain potato varieties. Experts have coined these growths as “water spots” or “water scabs,” attributing their emergence to the prolonged damp conditions experienced this summer.

Gregory Porter, a distinguished professor of crop ecology and management at the University of Maine, elucidated the mystery behind these enlarged lenticels. “The tubers have adapted to grow below the ground where there is less air available,” Porter explained. “When the soil gets saturated, there’s less oxygen and more water, leading the lenticels to enlarge.”

While these blemishes might compromise the aesthetic appeal of the potatoes, there’s a more pressing concern. These scabs can potentially become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and pathogens. Ibrahim Kutay Ozturk, a renowned potato plant pathologist, issued a word of caution for consumers, advising them to consume these potatoes promptly to circumvent potential bacterial threats.

As the potato community grapples with this phenomenon, a silver lining emerges. By allowing such potatoes to dry for a few days before storage, their shelf life can be extended, ensuring that Maine’s beloved tubers remain safe and delicious for all.

Source: Bangor Daily News (BDN). Read the full original story here
Photo: The ongoing wet growing conditions have left their mark on potatoes in Maine. Credit: Photo composite by Leela Stockley / BDN

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