Teddy C. Smiarowski Farm in Hatfield has close to 700 acres producing potatoes, raising 11,000-13,000 tons of russet, red, yellow and white potato varieties every year. The farm sells to most large chain stores and food service businesses, from Maine to Florida.
In the first few years they focused on growing cucumbers for the pickling plant in South Deerfield, but they transitioned to growing potatoes in 2005.
“This year was one of the driest on record — we were irrigating night and day,” Bernie Smiarowski told gazettenet.com. While irrigation can save the crops, dry years add a serious burden to farms in the form of additional labor hours.
One blessing in a dry year is reduced pressure from late blight, the fungal disease that caused the Irish potato famine, which spreads quickly in cool, damp seasons and can decimate yields. In addition to weather impacts, potato crops are affected by pests including the Colorado potato beetle, an insect found throughout North America.