High temperatures stall Ontario’s potato harvest
By Stephanie Gordon
Ontario’s potato harvest was progressing well, but had to stop over the past few days as temperatures rose above optimal harvest levels, according to Ontario’s potato specialist Eugenia Banks’ latest update.
“To keep a healthy crop in storage, pulp tuber temperature should not be above 18 C when trucks arrive to storages,” Banks explains. The temperatures in Alliston, Ont, one of the potato growing regions in the province, have hovered around the mid-20s (C) over the past couple days.
Mark Van Oostrum with WD Potato Ltd. told Banks he estimated that about 40 per cent of the chip stock is now harvested. Banks added that according to Joe Lach of Fancy Pak Brand Inc, potato farmers in the Simcoe – Delhi area should be done digging by Thanksgiving (October 12). According to Lach, there are a lot of odd-shaped potatoes and internal problems in the late crop. Grade out is high too. This is the result of a hot, dry summer, or as Lach put it “the wrath of nature.”
Banks observed her own share of problems at harvest, including:
- Higher than usual incidence of common scab due to the hot, dry weather
- Black leg and soft rot in low spots
- Hollow heart in Atlantic, about 65 per cent of medium and oversized tubers were affected in her variety trial (Alliston area)
- Pink Eye and leak but at low incidence
- Second growth
She refers Ontario growers to her checklist for a success potato harvest and emphasizes that harvest management is, in large part, bruise management.
In addition to a harvest resource, Banks collaborated with Mark VanOostrum to write an article on managing important storage diseases.