The rain that poured across Aroostook County in late September was too late to save the region’s potato farmers from a smaller harvest. Reportedly, it will be down approximately 20 percent from last year.
The reduced yields will drive revenue down for the potato industry, already struggling with decreased demand because of COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and events. Maine producers normally grow nearly 2 billion pounds of potatoes a year, a hugely profitable industry centered in The County, according to the National Potato Council.
Maine Potato Board President Don Flannery anticipated that crop yields per acre would be down at least 20 percent, but said he was waiting on actual numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in November.
Jim Dwyer, an associate professor of agriculture science and agribusiness at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, said yield declines were bound to happen with the county, seeing more than five inches less rainfall than average from June to August.