The potato harvest is underway in Canada. There are however varying regional results, from a near-record harvest to too-short in supply.
Kevin MacIsaac, United Potato Growers of Canada: “Moving from east to west, the season is always later. We have more time in the east to allow the crop to get harvested before winter sets in, in a normal year.”
“Starting in P.E.I., I would estimate the crop today is coming up to about 40 per cent harvested,” says Kevin MacIsaac, of United Potato Growers of Canada. After three years of below average crops in the area due to warm, dry conditions, a good quality crop is welcome for farmers on the East Coast.
New Brunswick is harvesting a record yield this fall compared to last year. The province being more inland, there’s a bit more push to get potatoes in the bin before a frost event.
Realagriculture.com reports that the hot, dry conditions that affected the Maritimes in previous summers has hit Quebec this year, but with more irrigated acres, table potato production yield and quality is on par. Ontario is also doing well for table production and is on-target for chips and for table potatoes.
However, heading into western Canada, it is clear the drought has been detrimental. “Most potato production in Manitoba is irrigated, but it’s just those hot temperatures, where the crop can’t cool down at night, the foliage and the leaves just can’t get cool, it really stresses the canopy and prevents some good yield production,” says MacIsaac. Despite these challenges, the crop was still able to size up after all in Manitoba and get good tuber sizes.
Potato processors in a bind as production sags
Poorer than average potato yields in Western Canada as well as in Idaho and the Columbia Basin in the U.S has created contracting headaches and supply issues for the processing sector. The tight supplies are having big impacts on the retail channel, as well.
According to realagriculture.com, the industry has come back to where it was pre-lockdown volumes, but as the industry was going through it all, volume was cut back, and now, the industry is facing supply challenges as production numbers are off in the west, in particular says MacIsaac.