06 October 2023
Wisconson growers delaying harvest - but warned that frosts could be imminent.
WHILE a prolonged summer drought has slowed Wisconson's potato harvest in the US, growers are concerned about rot.
Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) recently reported that around 70% of the state's potato crop has already been harvested but some producers are now delaying their work out of fear the unseasonable heat could cause the harvested potatoes to rot.
Sales Director for Wysocki Family of Companies, Kevin Schleicher, said his Portage County farm is only halfway through harvesting potatoes, despite starting earlier than normal, because of rain and abnormally warm weather in recent weeks.
Amanda Gevens, Potato and Vegetable Pathologist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Division of Extension, said potatoes are already generating heat heading into harvest through respiration and if weather conditions further raise the temperature of tubers, it will be difficult to properly cool them down for storage.
She said that while refrigeration is a great option to cool potatoes at harvest, the system must have the capacity to handle the high heat load and stressed that fresh air must be provided to purge carbon dioxide.
The probability of losses through pythium and pink rot, which increase substantially in the heat, is high.
However Executive Director for the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, Tamas Houlihan, said producers can't wait too long to bring in their crops as frosts always come at some point in October.