Faroe Islands

by | May 15, 2021

It is hard to imagine how different the climate of the Faroe Islands (North Atlantic Ocean) is than that of northern Siberia (see post on Ust Nera ). Located at 62 degrees north latitude between the Shetland Islands of the United Kingdom and Iceland the tiny Faroes are surrounded by ocean rather than in the middle of a huge continent.

Climate diagram for Torshavn, Faroe Islands. Source: NOAA.gov

In the Faroes, the temperatures vary in a narrow but cool range. No months have below freezing minimum or maximum temperatures. According to a local potato grower, potatoes are planted in early May when the average daily maximum temperatures is 9C and the minimum is 5C. July and August highs reach only 13C in August while minima are in the 8-9C range. Clearly the growing season is long but very cool in contrast to Ust Nera where it is short and warm. The climate is very moist compared to Ust Nera 1302mm annually but with a growing season (May-August) rainfall of 268mm.

Despite the extreme climate, less the Faroese are proud of their potato growing abilities as illustrated by a recent stamp issue. According to information provided with the stamp issue (available at https://en.stamps.fo/ShopItem/2010/0/PPA020910/SETT), the potato history is as follows.

 “It became common to grow potatoes as early as 1835. Potatoes were grown at first in special spots with deep soil and “earthing them up” (presumably hilling) until it was discovered they could be grown widely by using the turf method. The potatoes are grown beneath turf turned upside down. Potatoes are placed on a strip of grass, and covered by turf, grass to grass, with the soil facing up. A handful of artificial fertilizer is used for each potato plant.”

Though many people buy imported potatoes from shops, people continue to grow their own potatoes. These are considered to taste much better than store varieties. We are in contact with a potato grower in Torshavn the capital of Faroes and will report and illustrate specific cultural practices for potatoes from this far northern site..