May 19, 2022

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Westward Ho! Maine potatoes travel far after western drought | National News

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s potato growers experienced these a bumper crop this earlier year that they stepped in to help their huge brothers out west who have been brief on spuds.

Farmers from Maine shipped potatoes by rail for the initially time in 4 a long time this winter season thanks to a sturdy harvest in the condition and heat and dry temperature that stymied farmers in renowned potato-developing states like Idaho and Washington. The potatoes manufactured their way additional than 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) for processing, driving in local weather-controlled rail autos.

All told, 21 million pounds (9.5 million kilograms) of potatoes, almost all from growers in northern Maine, flowed as a result of a rail-connected warehouse owned by LaJoie Growers LLC. That equates to a lot more than 530 truckloads of potatoes, said co-operator Jay LaJoie.

“It’s a good chunk of potatoes,” said Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board.

Most of the Maine potatoes went to processors in Washington point out, in which a great deal of the french fries and other products are exported. The shipments to Idaho have been seed potatoes, like Maine’s Caribou russet, that’ll be planted this spring.

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Chris Voigt from the Washington Condition Potato Commission mentioned processors ended up grateful for the potato shipments, but they’re hopeful Maine growers’ expert services aren’t demanded in the long run.

The shipments arrived to an early conclusion about two months back, get together for the reason that of financial disruptions prompted by the war in Ukraine. But it was good though it lasted, supporting out potato processors in western states although minimizing an oversupply of Maine spuds.

It also proved the price of rail lines for agriculture, specifically through a lack of vans in the pandemic, LaJoie said.

There is no way growers could have sourced enough tractor-trailers to haul the potatoes, but there took place to be an out there rail line that connects to a LaJoie-owned warehouse in Van Buren.

The scarcity of truck drivers has contributed to supply-chain complications through the pandemic.

“I really do not see transportation acquiring far better at any time before long,” LaJoie reported.

When Maine is identified for its famous lobsters, the state was without a doubt the moment the nation’s potato cash via Earth War II. Other states later on stepped up generation in the 1950s. Idaho and Washington State are currently Nos. 1 and 2 when Maine ranks ninth, according to the USDA.

The unconventional scarcity of potatoes out west is a consequence of bizarre summer time temperature.

A warmth wave with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 levels Celsius) hit the Pacific Northwest in June, just as potatoes had been starting up to increase. The result was lowered yields, and lower high quality, Voigt reported.

“The plants type of shut down,” he stated.

The severe warmth reduced yields by approximately 10% for potato growers in Idaho and Washington, while Maine potato yields grew much more than 30% thanks to superior weather conditions, according to the U.S. Section of Agriculture.

In northern Maine, the harvest was so large that growers scrambled to obtain storage. Some structures at the former Loring Air Force Foundation were being enlisted for a last-minute residence for the ample tubers.

In the end, it proved to be a profitable pilot software for rail shipping and delivery that could be employed all over again if unusual weather conditions designs persist, LaJoie explained. Moreover Maine appreciated getting some notice for its potato sector many thanks to the irony of David rendering help to the potato Goliaths.

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