Eye on the Nation



By Dan Sawatzky, General Manager, Keystone Potato Producers Association

Growers in Manitoba experienced an excellent start to the season, seeing good potential in the crop this year.

Although planting began a little behind last year, the majority of the crop did get planted during the first 10 days of May, bringing it in line with average planting completion.

Crop development was rapid, with row closure beginning by the third week of June. Replanting occurred due to some seed rot from cool, wet soils on a few early-planted fields.

By the end of the June, overall moisture was a little below average with a few 30 C days earlier in the season, but below normal by end of June.

Manitoba growers have adjusted their yield goals higher following record-breaking yields last season. They are trusting that the weather will continue to be favourable in the realization of those goals.

Another reason yield targets were set higher was the uncertainty with contract pricing returns. Contract settlements came late this year and were not finalized until early- to mid-June. Overall, contract volumes are up from last year but initial indications are that acreage will be steady to down slightly. Some volume moved around due to one large grower exiting the business and another shifting volume between processors.

Research plots were also planted in a timely manner and that will help with providing data aligning with grower field experience.

Field days at the potato research sites are scheduled for Aug. 10 at Winkler and Aug. 16 at Carberry.


By Jean-Maurice Daigle, Director of Market Information, Potatoes New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s spring looked to be earlier than most with good snow cover and very little frost. However, cooler and wetter than normal temperatures pushed back the start of planting by a week or so. Warmer and drier weather soon followed, creating an ideal stretch of conditions for planting and allowing many growers to finish planting ahead of previous years.

Most New Brunswick growers were finished planting the first few days of June with the remaining being done the week after. June brought growers frequent localized thundershowers with amounts ranging from .25 to 1.5 inches. The crop is healthy and trending to be of average yield.

Old crop stocks are very low with good prices for the amount of open potatoes left. We are seeing high demand from packers (inside and outside of the province) and processors (outside of the province) at this time of the year due to very little open stock available.


By Kevin Brubacher, General Manager, Ontario Potato Board

Ontario producers were expected to plant approximately 34,500 acres of potatoes this year. This number may have changed by now – a planted acreage survey was due out in mid-July, too late for including in this report. Overall, planted acreage is very much in line with what was planted last year in the province.

The first early-planted potatoes went into the ground during the last week of March and into the beginning weeks of April. Soon after these early crop potatoes were planted, the province was hit with a string of showers and cool weather. This weather trend continued for most of the spring, resulting in a long and drawn out planting season. A small percentage of the crop needed to be replanted. As of late June there is still a small amount of acreage left to be planted.

By late June, conditions were variable across the province. Some areas in the south were irrigating for some time and were in need of rain, whereas other areas had received rainfall amounts far exceeding normal. A heavy rainfall of four to six inches in the areas north of Toronto created washouts and flooded some fields.

In August, we will be hosting two very informative and well-attended events. Please join us on Aug. 16 for the Potato Research Field Day at the Elora Research Centre, hosted by Vanessa Currie from the University of Guelph.

One of our biggest events of the year is Dr. Eugenia Banks’ Ontario Potato Field Day at HJV Equipment in Alliston, Ont. on Aug. 17. Please join us for these worthwhile and fun events.


By Rodney Dingwell, Chair, PEI Potato Board

After a long, drawn out planting season, most potatoes in Prince Edward Island were in the ground by mid-June. Good weather the remainder of the month allowed growers to proceed with field operations such as hilling and herbicide application in a timely manner, and the mood was fairly optimistic as we headed into the summer season.

Fresh market prices have held steady through most of the shipping season. Quality has been good and prices held steady all winter with a bit of an increase as things slow down. In the local roadside stand segment, new potatoes were starting to hit the market in late June.

Processing contracts were settled through the mediation process without the need to go to arbitration. Contract settlements across the U.S. and Canada, however, were disappointing particularly with the expansion that is taking place.

Research and extension efforts continue in P.E.I. to increase marketable yield of potatoes.

Post harvest test results on seed from the 2016 crop were excellent, and seed shipments to North American markets and the local market were very positive.

Our provincial crop scouting meetings started on July 4 as growers, scouts, agronomists, researchers and other field personnel began the process of monitoring and caring for the 2017 crop, and identifying challenges that will be unique to this growing season.

Research proposals submitted for consideration for inclusion in the 2018-2023 Potato Research Cluster project proposal are being reviewed across the country. It has been of great benefit to work with the other provinces to address common research priorities and make the most of the funds that we have available to put towards research. We look forward to continuing to be involved in this effort.


By Clément Lalancette, Directeur general, Les Producteurs de pommes de terre du Québec

Quebec expected a small increase in acres for 2017, about 500 acres, mainly because fry processors have increased their contracts. The average acreage between 2014 and 2016 was 42,300 acres.

After a difficult planting season with cold and wet weather, the warmer temperatures by mid-June helped the plants to grow at a normal pace. There is still a gap to be filled in comparison with a normal season, but there is no panic.

By late June, we had seen some seed rot, mainly because of bad weather, but it is limited to only a few areas. Insect activity increased by late June, especially with Colorado potato beetle. As of late June, there was no sign of late blight.

We expected new potatoes to arrive a little bit later on the market this year, maybe by the second week of July for sufficient quantity.


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