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Old Newspaper Article Tells of L.I. Potato Growing in 1910

January 9, 1964

 Old Newspaper Article Tells of LI Potato in 1910

By Thomas R. Bayles


 

Potato growing In Suffolk County was nearly as important a farming industry in 1910 as it
is today, according to an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for May 14, 1910. The farmers planted 12,500 acres that spring, according to this article, most of which were planted east of Manorville and with an ordinary harvest it was estimated that at least 2,500,000 bushels would be harvested that season.

The following is quoted from the article in the Eagle "The Long island Potato Exchange-will
hold its annual meeting 'early in June and It Is interesting to note the amount of business done during the past year.  The exchange did a total of $390,000 business on a paid up capital of only $10,000.  There have been increases in all the lines handled by the exchange, which is a sort of a mutual benefit arrangement for the farmers holding stock or shipping through it.  Much of the good work is due to the general manager, F.E. Embree and his father, C.E. Embree, who is assistant manager and also acts
as sort of a "roving missionary" to go about sowing seed among the farmers to keep them Interested in the work of the exchange.  The exchange looks for a much larger business in all lines for the coming year, although it must not be inferred that the exchange expects to handle the entire output from the
12,SW acres of potatoes.  There are many independent buyers, who are really fighting the exchange and who always manage to get hold of plenty of tubers to ship.  Since the exchange has been operating the price of potatoes has been maintained at a high level during the active shipping season.

"Of the 1909 potato crop the exchange shipped so far, 560 cars holding 369,857 bushels brought by the market $277,992.  The deal in old potatoes is practically over and there are but few cars left on Long Island and not much of a market for them." According to this article, potatoes were shipped from the following railroad stations: Riverhead, 98 carloads; Peconic, 99; Aquebogue, 100; Calverton, 38; Bridgehampton, 41; Southold, 61; East Hampton, 34; Southampton, 24; Cutchogue, 15; Jamesport,
2; Water Mill, 27; Wainscott, 6; Wading River, 13; Laurel, 2.

This is quite a contrast from the present time when most of the potatoes are handled by the
giant trailer trucks that roll through the Middle Country road and south side roads almost day and night to all points east of the Mississippi River and south to Florida.  Many of these truckers haul citrus fruits from Florida to New York and then come out hereon Long Island to pick up a return load of potatoes.  Long Island potatoes are sold in the Florida chain stores for the same price as here on Long Island,
ads recently being noted down there of 10 pounds for 29 cents. The Long Island Railroad has lost most of this business in recent years, although the past Fall it put into special service and cut the rates on potatoes nearly in half, which has brought back some business, especially, from those supermarket chains that have terminal warehouses with railroad sidings.  The acreage this year was around 15,000
acres, but the yields are way up from what they were in 1910, many fields reporting 500 to 600
bushels to the acre.

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