North America

Washington State potato crop impacted by smoke from wildfires

Quincy, Wash., potato farmer Adam Weber checks spuds while brother Josh Lybbert and cousin Deven Johnson look on.Adam Weber and his family last week started harvesting potatoes from the edges of their fields. Weber farms 3,500 to 4,000 acres near Quincy, Wash., with his father, uncle, brother and cousin. Smoke is believed to block the sun and interrupt photosynthesis, hindering plant development this season. “I think it’s weather-related,” he said of the yields, crediting a mild spring but adding that smoke from wildfires may have been another factor. “Some of our slowdown actually came when the smoke started coming in.” Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, said more research may be needed on the effect of smoke on plant development. “In the last three years, we’ve experienced a lot of smoke — I don’t know if that’s the new norm,” he said. Read more