This year has been a difficult one for potato producers in the Portage region. Shifting weather extremes have made both growing and harvesting difficult at times. Recent bouts of frost have producers concerned for their crops still in the ground.
Manager of the Keystone Potato Producers Board Dan Sawatzky tells us how the cold snap has affected the crop.
“It’s really too early to tell how the frost in the last couple of days will affect the potatoes,” says Sawatzky. “Next week we’ll get back out into the fields and have a better idea if there has been damage and how much. Until the last couple of days, tubers in the ground were still in good shape even though they’ve been chilled. They may have lost some of their colour but we can get that back with some storage re-conditioning.”
Sawatzky says even though they don’t usually have the crop out in the fields for this long, doesn’t mean that the news is all negative.
“The potato crop was actually looking to be quite a surprise,” says Sawatzky. “We had a very dry and hot summer. Growers were very busy putting on water and working hard at that. When they got into the fields to begin harvest, I think they were surprised at the yield. We have some places looking at a yield that could as good as, maybe even better than last year.”
Sawatzky says if the weather doesn’t dry up or warm up so producers can get out and harvest, tough decisions may lie ahead for local producers.