July 24th, 2021

Potato crops look good, despite unwanted heat

By ALEX McCUAIG Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on June 16, 2021.

An irrigated potato field near Bow Island is shown in this 2011 file photo.--NEWS FILE PHOTO

amccuaig@medicinehatnews.com

This year is looking good for the region’s potato growers, but the recent scorching temperatures are “bad for man, crop and beast,” says the head of the provincial association.

“It’s hard on the crops,” said Terence Hochstein, executive director at Potato Growers of Alberta.

The hot weather combined with a stiff southeastern wind on Monday combined for what Hochstein called a “Manyberries Chinook.”

“It was nasty. You could watch crops move backwards,” he said.

But overall, the season looks good and the oversupply of potatoes this time last year has largely thinned out.

“The glut on the market was totally COVID related,” said Hochstein, adding the situation was largely a byproduct of restaurants being forced to close.

That situation is expected to be manageable this year due to the increasing lifting of restrictions.

Hochstein also reacted to a Calgary Herald article regarding a call for more “regenerative farming” practises to be employed by potato growers.

He said the practise which refers to improvements in soil, water and biodiversity development is already being employed because, “that’s the proper thing to do.”

In the long term, Hochstein says the outlook is bright for the industry with an expansion of southern Alberta irrigation system underway, which will allow for more acres to be planted. And, the twinning of Highway 3, which will assist in transportation of more product.

However, “it’s going to take time,” for those projects to be built out, said Hochstein.

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