Knowing that late blight also affects potatoes, several winter shareholders have asked if there will be spuds in the share this year. As far as we can tell, it looks like it.
Bruce and Jenny Wooster, Picadilly Farm, are growing potatoes for the Winter CSA. Jenny reports that, so far, the crop is looking good. Here’s what she wrote at the beginning of August about their potato saving efforts.
Potatoes, we are thanking our lucky stars that we already have a reasonable crop underground – blight notwithstanding, it’s been a great potato growing season. However, the Late Blight spores can quickly travel through the vines and rot the potatoes underground. We’ve decided to kill the potato vines, and enjoy the harvest that is already sized up. Up and down our valley, farmers are doing the same. Conventional farmers use an herbicide for vine kill, and it is certainly disconcerting to see dead potato fields all over in early August. As organic growers, we have a harder road to hoe, as we attempt to mechanically kill all of the vines without damaging the potato hills underneath. First, we’ve been mowing the field. Later today we’ll go through with weedwackers (yes, that’s 8 miles of weedwacking!). When that’s all done, we’ll sweep through with the crew and loppers, knocking back the last remaining living stubs. We’re learning that there’s no such thing as “overkill” when it come to late blight. We’ll see a smaller yield, as some spuds would have continued to size up over the rest of the summer. And we’re uncertain if we’ll lose some storability with such early vine kill – the potatoes have to store underground for at least two weeks after the vines are dead, to set the skins for storage. We’ll see. But plenty of mashed potatoes remain in our future this season!
The Picadilly Farm crew has begun to harvest and distribute potatoes in their summer shares. It seems that late blight didn’t reach the tubers! Over the next month or so we’ll know more about how the potatoes store. Keep your fingers crossed!