Maine researchers are on their way to creating a climate-resistant potato in order to maintain Maines’s ability to produce potato harvests.

This has become a growing threat to Maine as climate change has impacted the growth of potatoes, making their quality go down, and the crop numbers drop dramatically.

Small changes such as hotter weather, longer seasons, and more rain have all impacted the world’s crops. Potatoes, though a hearty vegetable, cannot withstand these factors altogether. They particularly don’t do well in wet in very wet conditions.

“If we want potatoes to be continued to be produced successfully in Maine, we need to be able to produce varieties that can be resistant to change,” said Gregory Porter, a professor of crop ecology at UMaine.

Maine has also experienced a growing issue with pests that have flourished under the changes from climate change, creating yet another risk to potato farmers and more need for a climate-resistant potato variety.

Right now, researchers are in the testing phase of cross-pollinating potatoes in the hopes of creating a heat-resistant variety. But this is a very long process that typically takes years to accomplish, as well as years to officially release. It’s a different process than what it would take to genetically modify a potato, and longer too.  

With the growing side effects of climate change, it is vital that researchers start to test these new types of crops. As our normal crops are struggling to flourish through a constantly changing environment.

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