The state’s potato crop looks good despite a strange growing season. Tamas Hollihan with the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association said May planting was one of the driest on record, but July was extremely wet. But growers in the central sands region have had little to complain about, even with the recent heavy rains and flooding. “They’ve reported very good quality, and pretty good yields,” he said. “It’s surprising. The growers themselves are surprised at how well the crop survived this strange growing season.”
In the Antigo area, where most of the state’s seed potatoes are grown, the soils are heavier – and wetter. Hollihan spoke to one grower who hadn’t been having a good week. “He’s driving very slowly through the field, it’s taking twice as long. It’s just muddy and slow going.” There’s been plenty of rain in the central sands region where most of the state’s potatoes are grown – but growers aren’t too concerned. “We’re talking about a vegetable that is eighty percent water anyway, and we pump water on it every week. Potatoes need a lot of water to grow. It seems kind of crazy to say it, but the flooding really didn’t hurt the potato crop.”
Last year saw bumper potato yields in Wisconsin and other potato growing regions, which pushed down the price farmers received. The Badger State is the number three potato producer in the nation, behind Idaho and Washington.