Most potatoes are out of the ground and into storage. ((CBC))

Farmers on P.E.I. are enjoying much higher potato prices this year, but also estimate about 10 per cent of the crop isn't worth harvesting.

Ten-pound bags are going for as much as 23 cents a pound, compared with four to 10 cents at this time last year.

P.E.I. Potato Board chair Kevin MacIsaac has finished his harvest and is moving the potatoes into storage. MacIsaac said growers are due for a good year.

"P.E.I. fresh growers are coming out of three poor years in terms of the pricing, and so the pricing today is where we would like to have it — much closer to reality," he told CBC News Wednesday.

Lower fuel costs and a weaker Canadian dollar will also help dealers and growers.

"This year they will recover some of the loss that they experienced last year," said Mike Nabuurs of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture.

"It's certainly not going to be a huge windfall that will suddenly solve all of the agriculture's economic problems on P.E.I."


After a wet season, farmers are worried about potatoes rotting in storage, says Potato Board chair Kevin MacIsaac. ((CBC))

Satisfaction over high prices is tempered by problems with the crop. Wet weather throughout August and into early September has left about 10 per cent of the crop too soggy to harvest. Farmers are also concerned about how well the potatoes will keep in storage.

"Once one breaks down several will start to break down around it, and it just becomes an encompassing problem," said MacIsaac.

He said some farmers have already had to empty out warehouses because of rotting potatoes.

The harvesting is not yet quite complete, and farmers will soon know more precisely how much of the crop had to be left undug. MacIsaac hopes his well-ventilated warehouse will protect his potatoes for prices that could go even higher this winter.

Farmers will need several years of good prices, he said, to make up for recent losses.