Cold weather has led to poor potato harvests across the US and Canada. Hardest hit were growers in Manitoba, Minnesota and North Dakota, who had to abandon fields of potatoes laced with frost. Other farmers, including those in Alberta and Idaho, were only able to salvage some of their crops.
Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board, which promotes Maine’s potato industry, said that the poor harvests would create a “strong demand” for Maine-grown potatoes. He said processors had likely already acquired surplus potatoes -those exceeding established contracts with growers- grown in the state because of shortages elsewhere.
But he said he doesn’t think the change in the market will substantially affect pricing, as the price of most potatoes grown in Maine is contracted “before you even plant them.”
Flannery said that while many in the potato industry had known about the “terrible weather” in several potato-producing parts of North America, the recent news surprised some. He said it had dominated discussion at a meeting he attended of industry representatives in Ottawa earlier this week.
Flannery, who knows many of the growers affected by the poor harvests, said that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the potatoes from being unusable: “Everyone in the potato industry has had one or more of those falls. It rains, and it’s cold. You leave potatoes in the ground. It has happened before, and it will happen again.”