New problems arise for Michigan farmers as planet gets warmer

Michigan

In a March 11, 2021 photo, potatoes are examined along a conveyor belt before being loaded into a tractor trailer at the Sackett Potato farm in Mecosta, Mich. For generations, Brian Sackett’s family has farmed potatoes that are made into chips. About 25% of the nation’s potato chips get their start in Michigan, which historically has had reliably cool air during September harvest and late spring but now is getting warmer temperatures. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

MECOSTA, Mich. (AP) — Climate change is posing new challenges for crop storage, a part of agriculture that’s often overlooked.

Michigan produces more potatoes for chips than any other state because its outdoor air is usually cool enough to store them for months. But temperatures have edged upward in recent decades.

Mecosta County grower Brian Sackett has bought several refrigeration units to supplement the ventilation fans on his operation.

Scientists say there will be fewer days this century when potatoes and other crops such as apples and peanuts can be stored long-term without refrigeration. That may boost costs for consumers, as well as producers.

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