Workers from Butler Farms watch a bin piler unload thousands of potatoes into a former military storage facility at Loring Development Center in October 2021. Owner Bret Butler is using Loring as a backup to store part of his crop -- which is 20 percent larger than expected. (Hannah Catlin | Aroostook Republican)

Potatoes have had a good year, especially in the Northeast.

Sales in grocery stores topped $16.9 billion for the year ending in June, according to Denver-based Potatoes USA, the national potato promotion group.

The Southeast region sold the most potatoes at $684.5 million. The Northeast was next with $642.8 million, according to the report, outpacing the West and Plains regions that include the top two potato-producing states of Idaho and Washington. The report breaks down potato producers into eight regions.

With potatoes being Maine’s top food crop, that’s good news. Agricultural producers have battled drought, extreme rain and a worldwide pandemic over the past few years, so having a crop sell well provides an economic boost for growers, processors and sellers alike.

Maine produced more than 18 billion pounds of potatoes last year, and 18.4 billion pounds during the record harvest of 2021, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The industry hasn’t seen production that high in a decade.

Potatoes brought in $205.6 million in 2022, compared with $201.6 million the year before, according to the USDA’s potato summary.

Around 80 percent of shoppers said they eat potatoes once a week, according to a consumer report from Potatoes USA. For the last seven years, consumers have said spuds are their favorite vegetable, the report said.