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US (NC): Potato harvest off to early, wet start
Due to a mild winter and moderate spring temperatures, harvesting of potatoes has begun early in North Carolina. Although rains throughout May have caused some problems with blight, growers remain are optimistic about the season.
"A couple of farms have started harvesting at this point and it looks like it's going to be a good season," said Tommy Fleetwood of the North Carolina Potato Association. "It's been a really nice growing season and we've had sufficient rainfall which should lead to a very good crop." The season typically goes through July, though Fleetwood added that it might wrap up earlier because of an early start.
"Harvest came a little early this year because the entire East Coast had a mild winter," he said. He noted that mild temperatures throughout winter and spring have moved up the season by as much as 10 days.
Whenever the season's timing is not normal, there's potential for an overlap with other states' harvests, but that's unlikely this year, according to Martha Ferebee of John E. Ferebee Farming.
"The entire region is early," she said. "So as long as Florida finishes up soon, then it will work out well. As long as everyone has their window, we'll be fine." The more pressing issue has been the rainfall some growers have experienced throughout May.
"We had a cool, wet month in May," she said. "That has not helped. We prefer warmer weather with more sunshine." Although she said they've had a good growing season, the damp weather has contributed to the spread of blight.
"The blight gets in there with damp weather, so it's loved the weather we've had," she said. But with growers keeping it in check with spraying measures, she's optimistic about the season.
"We certainly have the potential for a good-sized crop," she said. "As a whole, the season should be good."
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