Canadian growers attempting to move tablestock potatoes into the United States after the potato wart fungus blockade has been adjusted must have all soil removed.
The first truckload reaching the Houlton, ME, border crossing on Monday was stopped. Every bag was unloaded and checked. The inspectors found soil on some of the potatoes and had to make sure the load was clean.
Maine growers are unable to wash potatoes. They are used to "brushing" them instead. This is causing problems in the Prince Edward Island potato industry, trying to take advantage of a plan to allow shipments of potatoes throughout Canada and into the United States-providing they meet strict guidelines.
There has been some discussion in the legislature on how to help small growers who do not have washing facilities. However, it was determined it was too late to offer assistance for the 2000 crop.
There are some growers who are equipped and it is hoped they will use their facilities to help those who aren't. It has been suggested that small washers, which can be hooked up to graders, could be purchased.
O'Leary's Farmers' Co-op has closed the doors on its potato warehouse after 50 years. The manager says it has been losing money over the past four years. He says the reason is that many growers are now moving into the processing market.