Potato field

Potato crops like this one have been doing well so far this season, but there is concern for how they’ll do in August, a typically drier month. Right now, the season is looking much better than the one farmers experienced last year, Along with having a very dry season, farmers had to deal with a very cool spring, and an early winter forced them to leave roughly 7,000 acres of potatoes in the ground.  Jillian Trainor photo

The 2019 growing season for potato farmers has been good so far, but many are hoping for a bit more rain as they head into August.

“It’s really important to have some moisture through August, because August typically is a little bit drier,” said Troy Smallman, farm manager at WP Griffin. “If we can get a little bit of rain, it will help pull them through until September.”

If they’re able to get that moisture, Mr Smallman thinks growers are going to have a pretty nice crop of potatoes.

It’s a different story compared to the 2018 season. Last year, not only was weather over the summer months very hot and very dry, an early winter left roughly 7,000 acres of potatoes in the ground.

Jason Hayden, chair of the PEI Potato Board, said after two drought years, farmers don’t wish to see a third.

“Financially, I think it would be very serious,” he said. “A lot of growers have weathered through two seasons of it, but a third season I think would be very difficult.”

He explained how it’s not good for a farmer to go three years without a profit. One effect it has is on crop insurance. If a farmer’s yield number is continuously going down because they haven’t been able to produce a full crop, that’s going to hurt them in years to come because they’ll have that lower number attached to them.

Both Mr Hayden and Mr Smallman say weather conditions are looking good, but more rain in summer is always welcome. No one wants a repeat of last year.

“I don’t think the potato industry could handle another season like that right now,” said Mr Smallman. “I don’t even want to think of it.”

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