By Clint Thompson
A planting delay for some Florida potato producers this year might have saved some from a damaged crop due to the Jan. 30 freeze event.
Lincoln Zotarelli, associate professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), confirmed delays due to seed arriving late amid the current supply chain shortage. Seed that would normally arrive in early January did not make it until the latter part of the month due to a truck shortage.
“We’ve had some issues with transport of seeds from the upper states. It seems to have delayed a little bit. I don’t know the extent of the delay. But it was hard to get trucks to drive down. I know that delayed some plantings,” Zotarelli said. “It was the latest we received seed in many years. I think it was Jan. 24 when we received the seed. Normally, we would receive it, at the latest, the second week of January.”
A late planting helped some growers dodge the Jan. 30 weather event that brought sub-freezing temperatures to most of the state.
“It wasn’t that bad to plant a little late this year, because we had that frost (on Jan. 30). Potatoes hadn’t emerged yet, so they were good,” Zotarelli said. “The frost got down to central Florida so it could have affected the potatoes.
“We didn’t get any impact from the frost (at the research farm).”
If exposed to freezing temperatures, potato plants could suffer burn damage. Even if growers cover the plants, they could still suffer potential loss.