Potato crops in Ontario are struggling under drought conditions with non-irrigated fields dying early, a July 14 email update from Eugenia Banks said.
“The drought that is affecting Ontario is the main concern for potato growers. The cost of irrigation, for the lucky ones who can irrigate, is extremely high, which will increase the cost of production immensely,” Banks said in her update.
About 35 to 40 per cent of Ontario potato acreage is dry land or rain fed, according to Kevin Brubacher and Mark Van Oostrum. According to Van Oostrum, when a drought is like this, some acres referred to as “irrigated” are only one to three shots.
Non-irrigated fields are dying early before tubers reach two inches, the update noted. The Melancthon area has been the exception to the rule. Due to more frequent rainfall, heavier soils, and organic matter, levels are closer to four per cent there. Later planting in that region also means the crop is younger and more tolerant to warm, dry weather.