The potato fields of Ontario are alive with activity as the storage crop harvest reaches its peak. Recently, the region near Alliston was a hive of activity, with trucks loaded with freshly harvested potatoes making their way to storage facilities.
Dr. Eugenia Banks, potato specialist at the Ontario Potato Board, reports that the current weather forecast promises a prolonged dry spell in the region. While this is good news for the harvest, the accompanying warm afternoons could pose challenges.
“Tuber flesh temperatures should ideally be between 10-15C when stored,” warns Dr. Banks. “Anything above 18C can be risky.”
She further adds that warmer temperatures can lead to issues like soft rot and Pythium leak, which can develop rapidly.
P & K Vander Zaag Farms, a prominent potato producer in the region, has been bustling with activity. Their Lamoka crop has shown promising signs with excellent health and quality.
Jessica Vander Zaag (pictured above), known for her proactive approach, has been hands-on, overseeing the transportation and ensuring the pulp temperatures are within the safe range. Another highlight at the farm is the thriving cover crops, indicating a successful season.
Further north, in the Melancthon area, Andrew Tupling has begun storing his Caribou russets. The yield this year has been impressive, with only the XL tubers showing signs of hollow heart.
Dr. Banks also noted an unusual trend this year, “There have been more growth cracks observed across all varieties.” However, there’s a silver lining as late blight, a common concern, doesn’t seem to be affecting the Melancthon crops.
Andrew Tupling was digging Horizon Russets, and in his opinion they are fabulous. “I agree with him,” says Dr. Banks, “Horizon is one of the nicest russets I have evaluated in variety trials.”
As the season progresses, all eyes will be on Ontario’s potato belt, hoping the favorable conditions continue and the harvest concludes successfully.
Source: Dr. Eugenia Banks, Ontario Potato Board
Cover photo: Jessica Vander Zaag of P & K Vander Zaag Farms. Credit Dr. Eugenia Banks