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Wet weather having large effect on P.E.I. potato harvest

It’s about to be the busiest time of year for Prince Edward Island potato farmers, but conditions this summer haven’t been ideal for the island’s premiere crop.

The ground is still wet on P.E.I., but some farmers like John Visser have already started digging potatoes.

He says this year has been the wettest he’s experienced.

“It’s never been this wet when we started the harvest season, and I’ve been doing this for 44 years,” said Visser.

He’s pulling out creamers Friday, the smallest grade of potatoes. They’re one of the first fields he does each year because the small size of potato doesn’t need as much time in the ground as something that goes to a french fry plant, for example.

Wet weather from the summer growing season has been the biggest challenge this year.

“Potatoes are living things,” said Visser. “They need air, and underwater they will start to decompose.”

It’s not just Visser who has had problems this year, Greg Donald with the PEI Potato Board said wet conditions have affected farms across the island.

“Often, moisture is limited,” said Donald. “This year, it’s too much of a good thing.”

Less sun also affects yields, with less sun energy able to be stored in the tuber, resulting in smaller potatoes and fewer spuds per plant.

Things are a lot less chaotic than this time last year, when the aftermath of hurricane Fiona pushed the harvest season back a week as farmers struggled with damaged infrastructure, power outages, and downed trees.

Farmers in P.E.I. were spared the worst of post-tropical storm Lee last weekend, but the wet weather since has left many waiting for a few dry and sunny days in a row before they start digging.

The harvest season is expected to pick up over the weekend and next week, and run into the end of October.

For more P.E.I. news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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