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Despite challenges, Wisconsin is marketing quality spuds

Wisconsin has just gotten through a very challenging growing and harvesting season. The growing season started off with a wet and cool spring, which ultimately reduced yields by 5 or 10 percent.Tamas-HoulihanTamas Houlihan

Wisconsin potato growers got off to a good, traditional beginning of harvest season in August, rolling into September, according to Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association. Then, in mid-September, unseasonably warm temperatures kicked in for a couple of weeks, with highs in the 80s, and even many warm nights. Harvesting under such conditions is a threat to potato quality. So Wisconsin growers elected to risk finishing harvest after an Oct. 1 first-frost-rule-of-thumb versus facing too warm of potatoes in September.

The harvest resumed on Sept. 20 and continued for a month thereafter. Jack Frost didn’t appear, and the growers were fortunate to wrap up a high-quality harvest.

“With a decrease in national production, we’ve had good solid prices,” he said.

Houlihan relies on John Keeling at the National Potato Council to take the potato industry lead on matters concerning the renegotiations of the NAFTA treaty. But Houlihan said he “doesn’t want to lose what we had with Canada and Mexico.”