1894 potato harvest

Maury Thompson
2 min readApr 7, 2024

The drought of 1894 threatened the potato crop.

“If we don’t have rain soon, we shan’t have any potatoes worth mentioning. As it is, the potatoes are small and the crop short,” farmer Marcus D. Richards of Moreau told a reporter, The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported on Aug. 27, 1894.

At least some of the tuber crop around Glens Falls had grit to withstand the Mother Nature’s torture.

“Notwithstanding the drought and short crop, Glens Falls appears to be favored in regard to potatoes,” The Morning Star reported on Sept. 1.

“The potato crop in the swamp this year is said by old settlers to be the best in years. The dry weather has just suited that locality,” the Sandy Hill, now Hudson Falls, correspondent reported in The Morning Star of Glens Falls on Sept. 1, 1894. “It is reported by one farmer who has raised crops in that section a long time that the crop was never better, and that the potatoes will average from 175 to 200 bushels per acre.”

Indeed, there was a good harvest in Washington County.

“The potato market has been quite lively this week, so many of the tubers being brought in that it was necessary to work nights to load them. … Notwithstanding adverse rumors, the crop appears to be a prolific one,” The Granville Sentinel reported on Aug. 21.

In other 1894 potato news collected from northern New York historic newspapers:

  • “Farmers have begun digging their potatoes. The most of them report a very light crop,” the Stony Creek correspondent reported in The Morning Star on Sept. 8, 1894.
  • “Farmers are nearly through digging potatoes. The crop is light,” the Kingsbury correspondent reported in The Morning Star on Sept. 20.

“Three acres of the farm of Walter Blasdell at Smith’s Basin, last week, yielded 865 bushels of potatoes,” The Granville Sentinel reported on Oct. 12. “The farm of Mrs. Parker, situated between Smith’s Basin and Dunham’s Bay, will yield, it is said, 5,000 bushels of the tubers. William Ritch of Jackson, Washington County, has harvested 600 bushels of fine potatoes from five acres.”

“Leonard Codner has about 200 bushels of potatoes from two acres — an exception to the general rule, as the crop is very light here,” the West Mountain correspondent reported in The Morning Star on Oct. 11.

Early snow stymied the potato harvest in Washington County.

“The snowfall of last week caught some of the farmers in this locality napping, as quite a few potatoes are still in the fields,” the Shushan correspondent reported on Nov. 16. “Some of the farmers near Cambridge have looked with wry faces at the snow and cold weather of the past week, for, strange as it may seem, there are many acres of potatoes not yet dug, and many bushels of apples unpicked at orchards within a radius of five miles from that village.

“The mild weather has given our potato market a new lease of life, and our potatoes are coming in fast,” the Fort Edward correspondent reported in The Morning Star on Nov. 17.

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY