Michigan’s potato crop is sizing up to be favorable, despite some frost damage that required replanting in certain areas. The crop seems to have endured the 13-14 inches of rainfall in the first week of June, along with extreme hot weather that stunted vines and tuber growth.
“Overall, the crop looks solid,” says Brandon Leep, vice president of commercial lending for GreenStone Farm Credit Services.
Early yield estimates appear to be at or above the Michigan average of roughly 420 hundredweight per acre. Yield can be affected dramatically by harvest conditions, but early indications appear to be positive, according to Leep. “August is typically when the crop is made, so steady rain and no 90-degree-plus weather is what is needed to finish the crop in good shape,” he adds.
Timely rains and cooler temperatures in July have helped the crop remain looking good.
Michigan ranks eighth in the nation for potato production with more than 47,000 acres dedicated to growing potatoes, producing 1.7 billion pounds of potatoes annually.
Michigan is home to over 80 potato growers and the potato industry contributes about $1.24 billion to Michigan’s economy, including more than 3,000 jobs in potato production and processing.
Forecast for potato late blight was at high risk for most of the state, according to USDA’s July 26 Crop Progress and Condition’s report. “Producers are currently applying fungicide, mainly through aerial applications to help with disease pressure,” Leep noted. “They are also applying nitrogen through pivot irrigation systems.”
Potato beetle is the primary pest for Michigan potatoes this summer.
The crop got off to a good start as planting conditions were favorable with earlier than normal warm soil conditions in most areas of Michigan. “It allowed producers to get their crop in the ground in a timely manner,” Leep says. “Early growing conditions helped set the stage to endure later challenges.”
Demand for potato chips and table stock remains relatively strong. Storage potatoes from the 2020 crop have largely moved to market. North Carolina and Virginia are harvesting, and supplies are plentiful. Southwest Michigan chip-potato harvest will likely start the last week of July. “Potato supplies could back up during the summer months and through the 2021 harvest with transportation continuing to be a challenge,” Leep says.
Drought conditions decreased in most areas of the state due to continued precipitation, according to USDA. Only seven percent of the state is in moderate to severe drought, with the driest areas being the eastern half of the Upper Peninsula and the counties surrounding Saginaw Bay in the eastern central Lower Peninsula.
Outlook on other vegetable
The Michigan vegetable crop report for July 21 reported on carrot diseases and celery mites, head rots in some cole crops, Phytophthora and Pythium rots in zucchini, squash, pumpkins, and pickles, and Downey mildew in cucumbers, leaf spots in pumpkins, and basil downy mildew, and tip over on some early sweet onions. Silking sweetcorn is attractive to corn earworm in Michigan, and western bean cutworm moth populations are rapidly growing, the report says. Cracking in tomatoes is not due to a pathogen, but accelerated growth due to the favorable precipitation. This cracking can lead to an entry point for molds and tomato fruit rot.