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US: Despite dry season, Maine potato crop looks good

As the potato season in Maine is coming to an end, John Jemison, a soil and water quality specialist for the University of Maine is reflecting on the season and what the harvest might bring in a news item by WABI TV5. 

"If growers didn't irrigate this year in Aroostook County, yields might be a little lower, but the quality should be good and if they were able to irrigate timely, I think they'll do just fine," John Jemison told.

While most of Maine has experienced drought like conditions, that's not necessarily the case for all regions. 

However, no matter what crop farmers are trying to grow, most have felt the brunt of a dry August, especially potato farmers. 

"What we would like to have is more consistent moisture throughout the season because what happens when you get a flush of water and it gets dry and then you get a flush of water, some of the potato quality can suffer from that."

For many farmers, it's been quite dry, but potato farmers say the season hasn't been abnormal. In fact, they can sum it up in just one word. Variable. "Variable would be the one and it seems that variability is the norm."

He says many potato growers got a late start with the cold weather, but the month of August really hurt with little rain. 

With Maine's weather constantly changing, it's hard to tell what the season will be like for a certain crop, but Jemison says the success of it all depends on the soil. 

"We try to look at different techniques we can do to help protect the soil resource and to try and look at how improving soil quality might help increase potato production."

With the state's climate seemingly changing, Jemison says it's more important now than ever for growers to be smart before they plant. 

"Our growers need to be thinking about everything they can do to improve their odds. Crop insurance, irrigation, drainage, building soil quality. Anything they can do to improve."

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