Prince Edward Island potato growers are crossing their fingers and hoping that record rains in October won’t put too much of a dent in the 2009-10 crop.
Some spud-growing regions of the island received 11 inches of rain in October, shattering old records by up to 4 inches, said Greg Donald, general manager of the Charlottetown-based Prince Edward Island Potato Board.
That set back harvest schedules up to two weeks, he said. And a frost in mid-October made matters even worse.
Fortunately, growers were greeted with a pleasant, unexpected surprise in November when the clouds cleared and temperatures climbed, Donald said.
That made it possible for growers to get into soggy fields at a time of year when they’ve usually closed up shop because of frost fears, he said. Harvest typically winds down at the end of October; this year, most growers were expected to finish about Nov. 14.
As a result, only about 3% of the PEI crop will likely go unharvested because of the wet October, Donald predicted.
But the threat of disease looms large, Donald said. In the coming weeks growers will start to get a handle on exactly what toll the rains took.
“There haven’t been any disasters yet, but we’re very concerned about how they’ll keep,” he said. “As long as I can remember, this is the worst fall we’ve had.”
As of mid-November, however, “it’s a decent crop,” Donald said, with above-average yields and a good size profile.