Maine Government News
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: Maine Potato Harvest Yields Good-Quality Spuds
October 11, 2012
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine potato producers are harvesting “a quality crop” this season, according to state agriculture officials.
With 80 to 85 percent of the crop already harvested this week, growers are having a successful growing year and are storing a good crop of potatoes, Don Flannery, Maine Potato Board executive director said.
Maine farmers also are not being affected by the severe drought conditions that have taken place in the Midwest, he noted.
“A quality crop is going into storage – quality in, quality out,” Flannery said this week. “We’re looking at a crop that is good quality and somewhere close to average yield.”
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) supports Maine potato farmers specifically through certifying seed potatoes, inspecting and evaluating fresh market and processed potatoes and certifying them according to state and federal regulations. As of September 2012, a total of 11,444 acres of seed potatoes, managed by 121 growers, was certified. The most common varieties were Frito-Lay propagated varieties, Russet Burbanks, and Atlantics, according to ACF’s Animal and Plant Health Division.
Maine potato growers planted a total of 59,000 acres of potatoes in 2012. The potato industry employs 2,650 people directly and 2,400 indirectly.
“Maine has approximately 380 potato farmers, and although the majority of family-owned potato operations are in located in Aroostook County, commercially, potatoes are grown statewide,” said Walter Whitcomb, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry commissioner. “They are Maine’s largest agricultural crop and a huge economic boost to rural Maine.”
In Maine, 65 percent of the crop is sold for processing, with pre-season contracts; 20 percent is sold as seed potatoes primarily to East Coast producers; and the remaining crop is sold as fresh/tablestock potatoes.
Flannery said this year’s crop is expected to be a yield in keeping with the 12-year average of 290 hundredweight per acre. The final amount won’t be known until about six months from now after the entire crop is sold, he said.
“Right now, there appears to be an adequate supply of fresh potatoes,” with no shortages due to the drought conditions affecting the Midwest, Flannery said, adding that he did not expect price volatility post harvest.
“We expect everything to store well,” the board executive director pointed out. Last year, there was a storage issues because of the amount of rain during the season, but this season has been a drier year, he said.
For more information about the Maine Potato Board, go to: http://www.mainepotatoes.com/
For more information about Maine Seed Potato Certification, go to: http://www.maine.gov/agriculture/pi/potato/index.htm
For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf