Presque Isle: Potato board says crop looks good, rain is starting to raise concerns

Posted July 26, 2008, at 12 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 28, 2011, at 12:09 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Although growers have been hampered somewhat by the wet and cool weather conditions, this year’ s potato crop is coming along well, according to Don Flannery, the executive director of the Maine Potato Board.

“As always, it has been an interesting season,” he said on Thursday. “Up until last week, conditions were pretty good, but right now we are getting a lot of water. That is a big concern this time of year, but the good heat we’ ve had recently has helped things. As far as the crop itself, we are in good shape.”

This year, growers have planted 55,000 acres of potatoes in Maine, according to Flannery. That figure is down 2,000 acres from last year.

As in other years, potato diseases are a concern to growers.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension confirmed last week that late blight had been spotted on a small patch of land on a farm in Connor.

The disease attacks potatoes, tomatoes and other nightshade crops, and is most virulent in wet and humid weather. It causes lesions on the leaves of potato plants and can cause the tubers to rot while in storage. Diseases such as late blight can wipe out fields of growing potatoes and render much of the crop useless.

Officials with the cooperative extension said the late blight had been spotted on a small patch of land on a farm in Connor and had been taken care of. It did not spread to any other fields.

Flannery said that growers were optimistic about the season and would see what happened in August.

“It’ s a long way through the month of August,” he said. “We’ ll just wait and see what happens.”

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