Eye on the Nation



By Terence Hochstein, Executive Director, Potato Growers of Alberta

Alberta’s 2017 crop turned out to be a mixed bag. While quality remains excellent, our yields were all over the place. Some fields had Russet crops going down mid-August which greatly affected their yields. The ones that stayed green until mid-September were quite a bit better yielding. Like many growing areas across Canada, the increasing occurrence of Verticillium wilt (early die) is becoming an issue that is in need of a great deal of scientific research to get ahead of this problem.

The harvested crop continues to be storing very well with no noticeable issues to date. All reports are that our seed quality remains excellent with a slight reduction in available tonnage for sale this year compared to last. The demand for Alberta seed continues to rise across Canada and into the United States.

The building of the Cavendish plant continues with the pouring of piles and footings to be underway by the time this goes to print. The anticipated start date is still for the 2019 crop year.

The 2017 PGA Potato Conference and Trade Show held in November in Red Deer was once again a resounding success. Although not having the attendance of last year’s 50th Anniversary celebration in Banff, our numbers continue to rise. Next year we will be moving our AGM north to Edmonton for the first time ever. Stay tuned for more information on dates and a location.

Contract discussions are now underway in many areas of North America. The processing industry continues to expand and be very profitable for our processors, and it is the growers’ hopes to be able to share some of that positive movement forward. Only time will tell how this all works out across the country.

Although it is still mid-winter, there is once again a great deal of optimism towards the upcoming season. Planting is less than 90 days away in some of the growing areas. State side, the date is less than 60 days away.


By Hugh Reynolds, Reynelda Farms, Delta, B.C.

B.C. had a cool and damp fall that allowed for better storage and excellent pack-out. Quality is excellent with sales good and prices fair. The new BC Fresh warehouse will open in May just in time for our Early Warbas.

Our sales in B.C. have been expanding and trucking has become a bottleneck. Our only concern is that some popular seed varieties are in tight supply.


By Dan Sawatzky, General Manager, Keystone Potato Producers Association

The 2017 crop once again surpassed grower expectations, resulting in another record yield moving from 348 cwt/acre to 359 cwt/acre. Although growers adjusted their target yields to curb overproduction, optimum environmental factors coupled with excellence in management resulted in another large crop. Production for processing exceeded contract amounts, leaving limited surplus available. The local processors have purchased a good portion of this open supply but some remains available.

The crop had some variance between regions and even within fields in terms of senescence with some not able to take advantage of the delayed harvest due to rain delays. Fortunately, the open fall free from frost worked in growers’ favour, contributing to higher yields, and good size and quality.

Although there have been some storability issues, mainly related to wet digging conditions, losses have been kept to a minimum. Milder fall weather has been a benefit for storage, although the last few weeks of December have been a challenge with very cold temperatures. Usage is running ahead of last year.

Winter always lends itself time for reviewing last year’s performance and planning for the coming year.

Once again our annual January conference Manitoba Potato Production Days was well attended with registrants from across North America. A thank you to all sponsors, exhibitors and excellent speakers for participating in our Great Canadian Potato Show.


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

The 2017 growing season in New Brunswick is complete and resulted in average to slightly above average yields in processing varieties, and average to slightly below average in the table and seed sectors. There was again a difference in yield between the northern and southern regions of the Saint John River Valley, with the northern region having better yields. Due to the dryer than normal growing conditions, the crop profile is smaller than average but the size profile and, in some areas, lower than average yields are offset by higher than average quality and payable percentages.

Concern over supply in the processing and table sectors this fall led to processors and packers securing any available un-contracted potatoes. The result of the contracting in the fall meant that New Brunswick’s supply of open potatoes is negligible and limited to remaining potatoes that will be left in the back of storages after the processing contracts are fulfilled. Processors within the province have secured enough supply to get them to the end of the processing season. Packers have voiced concern over not having enough supply to get a full season in. Prices on the table market have been strong due to favourable supply/demand balance.

Even though fall temperatures were high at the start of the harvest, New Brunswick growers managed the harvest by not harvesting during high temperatures and managing pile temperatures. The management resulted in excellent crop quality being put into storage. To this point, very few issues have been reported.

Early indications on this year’s seed crop are that growers are seeing very low PVY levels, with the grade and quality being very good to excellent.

The Potatoes New Brunswick Potato Conference and Trade Show on Feb. 1 was a great success, and thank you to everyone who attended.


By Kevin Brubacher, General Manager, Ontario Potato Board

The 2017 harvest in Ontario encountered some challenges. In late September the province dealt with much higher than normal temperatures for 10 days. Daytime highs reached up to 30 C. Many growers were forced to harvest in the early morning hours or even shut down completely. These high temperatures were a cause of concern for potatoes already in storage. Growers had to keep a very close eye on bin temperatures and manage their buildings accordingly. As temperatures returned to normal, growers were diligent in harvesting a good yielding crop of excellent quality potatoes. Harvest finished mid to late October despite the lengthy delay.

The Ontario Potato Board hosted a successful 42nd Annual General Meeting on Dec. 6, 2017. Highlights of the day were presentations from Dr. Eugenia Banks on innovative ways to detect late blight using spore trap technology, and Vanessa Currie showcasing 2017 variety trials.

Dr. Eugenia Banks will host the Ontario Potato Conference on March 6, 2018 at the Delta Hotel in Guelph, Ont. This event grows every year and is quickly becoming one of the most anticipated potato events in the country. Dr. Banks has filled vendor space for the trade show and has an excellent line-up of speakers from all over the world. Everyone is welcome; if you are interested in attending this event please contact the Ontario Potato Board at 519-846-5553 or email [email protected].


By Darryl Wallace, Chairman, PEI Potato Board

As expected after the dry summer and spotty rains, the yield was variable across Prince Edward Island in 2017 and Statistics Canada has estimated total production at eight per cent below that of 2016.

Potatoes are keeping well and quality has been good. A large percentage of post harvest tests have been completed and once again the pass rate (below the provincial planting cap) has been very high.

Seed shipments to the U.S. and other export markets are underway. Some processing potatoes have been imported to P.E.I. to make up for the shortfall in yield in 2017.

Trade shows and extension activities are getting started for the winter season. A good contingent of P.E.I. industry representatives attended the NPC Potato Expo in Orlando, Florida.

The local International Potato Technology Expo in Charlottetown is scheduled for Feb. 23-24, 2018. A full list of activities and events can be found on the new PEI Potato Agronomy website at peipotatoagronomcy.com.

P.E.I. representatives continue to work collaboratively with other provinces through the Canadian Potato Council Research Working Group on a new Potato Research Cluster submission for the new Growing Forward Program, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

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