With demand bouncing back following last year’s pandemic drop, Canadian potato acreage is expected to increase by 2.3 per cent to 367,800 acres for the 2021 growing season, the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) says in a news release on May 7.
UPGC notes it was hard to come up an acreage estimate with demand returning to pre-COVID levels. Demand for french fries, potato chips, and table potatoes has returned to almost normal or surpassed previous year levels depending on the sector. Contract negotiations were also delayed.
“The seed acreage will be all needed to plant these acreages. In addition, the supply pipeline will be emptied by the end of the marketing year, in comparison to this time last year when business was extremely chaotic,” the release says.
Prince Edward Island
Canada’s top potato growing region, Prince Edward Island, is expected to stay roughly the same as last year at 84,000 acres.
“We estimate 84,000 acres as growers recover from a difficult year of lower production due to last year’s drought. Available land for proper crop rotations is also a controlling acreage factor,” UPGC says.
P.E.I. growers are just starting to plant potatoes as soil temperatures have been cooler.
New Brunswick has increased french fry production which means increased demand for spuds in the province. UPGC is expecting acreage will rise to 53,000 acres.
“Growers are just beginning to plant their crop now after having received significant levels of moisture this spring. Producers are also reeling from a disastrous dry year in 2020.”
Potato acreage in Quebec should be similar to last year at 46,000 acres, UPGC says. While fresh acreage will remain the same as last year, there will be a shift from red to yellow potatoes.
“Processing acres, especially for french fries could increase to meet contracted volume requirements for the local processor. Chip acres will likely be similar,” UPGC says in the release.
Planting is underway with many growers 15 to 20 done, while up to 40 per cent of growers are finished planting. Soils have been warm but have cooled off recently.
Ontario growers are expected to plant 37,000 acres of potatoes this year — up from last year, UPGC says. There should be increased chip and fresh potato acres.
“Spring conditions have been warm for some time with many producers in the southern region well along with their work or finished planting. Planting in the traditional storage region in the Alliston area is also progressing well.”
Acreage in Manitoba should jump substantially this year to fulfill increased demand from the Portage Simplot french fry plant expansion. UPGC is predicting Manitoba acreage will be at 73,000 acres.
“The challenge is to find or convert over acres currently growing other crops into potatoes. Acreage for table potatoes will be similar to last year, however a difficult marketing season for reds will spearhead movement over to more yellow potatoes,” the release says.
There is concern across the province though about extremely dry planting conditions with low water levels in reservoirs, UPGC notes. Planting is about 70 per cent done, with some growers finished.
Saskatchewan potato acreage is expected to be the same as last year at 6,000 acres, UPGC says. Acres are predominantly seed with some table production. Planting is around 10 days earlier than usual.
Contract negotiations in Alberta wrapped up the last week of April, meaning some growers are still waiting for volume commitments. This is making an acreage estimate difficult at this time, however UPGC is guessing 61,000 acres, which would be up from last year.
“Commercial growers will finish planting in the next day or so under very dry conditions. Seed growers have not yet began planting their crop in the northern region. Table acreage should be similar to previous years, while the chip acreage will now be spread among three chip processors.”
Potato acreage in British Columbia should be 6,500 acres, which is the same as last year, UPGC says.
“Although the potato crop has been profitable in the province, there are always higher value fruit crops competing for the existing land base, making further expansion very costly,” the release notes.
Potato planting is well underway with about 50 per cent of it done. UPGC notes some growers have finished earlier than ever before.