Canada is expected to produce 122.3 million cwt of potatoes for 2021, which if accurate would mark Canada’s largest potato crop ever on record, the Oct. 14 issue of the North American Potato Market News (NAPM) says.
The 2021 crop is predicted to be a 19.8 per cent increase from the 2020 crop, mainly due to large yields in the Maritimes. This is also 5.40 million cwt more than NAPM‘s September forecast, the report notes.
“Growers in several of the eastern provinces report that yields on this year’s crop have been exceptional. On the other hand, yields in several of the western provinces are down significantly due to the challenging growing season,” the report says.
Canada’s 2021 average potato yield could be the largest ever produced, NAPM says. It is forecast to be 324 cwt per acre, up from 294 cwt in 2020 and the five-year average of 307 cwt. This would also beat the current 2017 record of 314 cwt per acre.
The report notes harvest conditions have been favourable in most regions. Growers in Prince Edward Island are confident they will be able to harvest their remaining potatoes over the next week. In New Brunswick and Quebec, harvest is nearly complete but storages are full.
“Persistent wet weather has Ontario’s growers concerned for their unharvested potatoes. The overall increase in our crop forecast can be attributed to larger than expected yields in P.E.I. and New Brunswick and an increase in Quebec’s harvested acreage.”
Canadian Potato Market Outlook
NAPM says the market outlook for Canadian potatoes is complex right now. The 19.8 per cent production jump would make for a Canadian potato crop which is 16. per cent larger than the five-year average. This increase in production mainly comes from P.E.I. and New Brunswick, and is certainly more than growers intended to produce at planting time, NAPM says.
“While that normally would result in weak open market prices, this year’s market response will depend upon the interaction between this year’s supply shortfall in areas like Manitoba, Alberta, and the Pacific Northwest, continued strong demand for potatoes and potato products, and transportation and logistical issues.”
Canada’s table potato supplies should be plentiful, NAPM notes. Record yields in the eastern provinces have increased combined potato production by 31.7 per cent from last year’s drought reduced level.
“On the other hand, table potato supplies in the western provinces could be tight. Record-high temperatures during the growing season took a toll on this year’s potato crops in Manitoba and Alberta.”
The drought in Western Canada will affect locally grown ray supplies for french fry plants in Manitoba and Alberta. NAPM notes fryers in those regions will be looking for extra supplies. P.E.I. and New Brunswick can provide the needed potatoes, but logistics could make this prohibitive.
“Raw product in most other North American processing areas is extremely tight. Size and quality issues in the western provinces are likely to reduce finished product recovery rates significantly.”
Chip potato supplies in Quebec and Ontario are expected to be more than last year, NAPM says. Yields in P.E.I. and New Brunswick have also been strong.
“Chip potatoes in the western provinces seemed to handle the heat better than frozen processing varieties, though supplies still could be tight in those areas.”
Seed potato supplies for the 2022 growing season should be plentiful in the eastern provinces and will run short in western provinces. NAPM says most of the seed crop is on non-irrigated acres meaning extreme heat and dry weather reduced seed yields in several key production areas.