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 Buscador de Noticias
Norte Am. 05/01/2024

EEUU: Maine farmers harvest fewer potatoes after rainy growing season

Workers from Butler Farms of Limestone watch a bin piler unload thousands of potatoes into a former military storage facility at Loring Development Center in October 2021.

Owner Bret Butler used Loring as a backup to store part of his large crop that year. Credit: Hannah Catlin / Aroostook Republica

Maine potato growers harvested about 70 million fewer pounds of potatoes than in 2022, likely caused by the state’s unusually wet weather.

Nearly everywhere in Maine, rain damaged crops like hay and increased pest activity. Potato farmers faced having to leave some overly saturated potatoes behind.  

Potatoes have reigned for decades as Maine’s No. 1 food crop, with a value of $258 million last year. Though the numbers were smaller this year, producers still gathered the third biggest crop in the last five years.

In spring 2023, farmers planted 53,000 acres of potatoes. They hauled in 17.4 billion pounds this fall, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Production averaged 16.8 billion pounds from 2019 to 2023. This year’s harvest yielded 33,000 pounds per acre, just beating the five-year average of 32,400 pounds.

Most of the crop goes to processors, including three in Aroostook County: McCain in Easton, Pineland Farms in Mars Hill and Penobscot McCrum in Washburn. It’s not surprising that nearly three-quarters of what farmers planted this year was russets, which work well in processing. About a quarter of the crop comprised round white varieties, with around 5 percent made up of specialty potatoes like red, blue and yellow.

The most challenging year of the last five was followed by a record-setting high.  

Growers battled drought in 2020, resulting in a low harvest of 13.4 billion pounds from 52,000 acres of spuds planted. Farmers upped their game the next year, planting 54,000 acres, and nearly perfect growing conditions sparked a record-setting harvest of 18.4 billion pounds.

The 2023 crop’s monetary value won’t be known for several months since much of it is still to be sold.

Correction: This article has been amended to correct the harvest number. Farmers harvested 70 million pounds fewer potatoes than last year.

Fuente: https://www.bangordailynews.com/2023/12/28/aroostook/maine-potato-harvest-decrease-2023/

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