Maine potato farmers are facing growing pains after two summer months with little rain and sharply decreased demand for red table potatoes.
The Portland Press Herald reported that Aroostook County potato farmers are seeing fewer and smaller potatoes this year and are expecting a financially difficult harvest season.
Around 2 inches of rain fell in both July and August, which was less than average and tough for the most common crop – Russet Burbank potatoes – which require around 0.2 inches of water a day, Steven Johnson, a crop specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension told the Press Herald.
Farmers can receive additional premiums from processors for potatoes of a certain size, but Dana Wright, executive director for the Agricultural Bargaining Council, which represents around 80 growers in negotiating contracts with processors, told the Press Herald that the threshold for that premium – 10 ounces – will be difficult to meet for many this year without September rains.
The current contract with processors calls for a median price of around $10.40 for 100 pounds.
For red table potatoes, the Press Herald reported, the price has dropped from $30 for 100 pounds last year to just $3 for 100 pounds.