Rain welcomed by potato growers

Eric McCarthy
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ALBERTON -- The August rains arrived in just the nick of time for the 2014 potato crop, suggests Knutsford grower Karl Smallman.

Potato field

“July was dry, Smallman assessed. “We were in a hurting situation.”

That has changed around since August arrived, including 85 ml in just one week.

“When that came over two weeks ago, it saved our skins,” the co-owner of Triple S Farms acknowledged. He said he’s feeling much more confident about the 2014 crop and believes it is performing quite well.

The potato specialist with the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture, Brian Beaton, agreed with Smallman’s assessment, but added rainfall has been sporadic. Rainfall might be good in one area and light just a few kilometers away, he explained. Some communities, including Orwell, are still quite dry, he said.

While July’s weather was concerning because it was so dry, Beaton said the conditions helped prevent the spread of late blight. There have been no confirmed cases of late blight in the province so far this year.

A few fields have died down from early blight, Beaton said, “but, even that, it’s actually pretty good.”

Although July was dry, Beaton said the crop surely benefitted from reserve moisture from a wet June. Even so, some of the earlier varieties were “starting to show their age,” he said, before the rains arrived. He suggested the western end of the province fared better than the rest through July because of occasion rainfall.

There have not been enough early potatoes harvested yet, Beaton said, to get an indication on yield.

Organizations: P.E.I. Department of Agriculture

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