Prince Edward Island is seeing a better-than-average yield at this point on its 2023 potato crop, though it awaits the full crop report from Statistics Canada on December 7th. “However that’s below the last two really good years,” says Mark Phillips, marketing specialist with the P.E.I. Potato Board.
As PEI approached harvest season things were very wet but a good stretch of weather before harvest helped dry things out. In all, the first half of harvest went better than expected and growers were strategic about what fields they went into. However, the second half of the harvest brought more wet weather and then snow towards the end.
“The moisture didn’t really let off and we needed more heat units probably,” says Phillips. This created a few issues so growers and packers were more strategic in getting them out of the ground. “It’s a pretty good crop overall though a little lighter than last year. People worked hard to put the best stuff in storage and working hard to keep it that way.”
North American supplies
As for demand, Phillips says some producers would prefer to be more active right now. “Yet our numbers so far are pretty in line with the previous couple of years. We had good movement last year and we’re on pace or a little above that,” he says, noting he’s also mindful of the fact that the U.S. had one of the largest potato crops this year since 2000. “That will be a challenge knowing there’s a good supply, particularly in the Western part of North America. However with the exchange and how we’re insulated by being closer to our markets, that should help. The full impact of that probably won’t be felt until after Christmas.”
That said, pricing is holding despite concerns it would be softer. “Last year was a record pricing year for us and things aren’t as good as that year. It is better than previous years though,” he says, noting the cost of inputs has also risen in the past few years. “So we need to make sure to get the most we can out of each crop.”
Looking ahead, movement is anticipated to pick up for the holidays. “With the relative cost of potatoes versus other items, we may start seeing more ads based on potatoes because they have a bit more flexibility with it. Especially with the cost of food right now, potatoes are a pretty good bang for your buck,” says Phillips. “It should be a pretty strong month and if it isn’t, that’s when we’ll start to get concerned.”