The Canadian potato crop is showing good potential to meet industry needs in most regions of the country, the August 19 crop update from the United Potato Growers of Canada says. There should be enough potatoes for a rebound following yield and production reductions over the past two years.
The crop is currently in the critical growth stage of tuber bulking, the update notes. Set has been determined, this phase will provide yield and determine crop production. Early harvest of table, chip and processing potatoes has begun in most provinces.
Prince Edward Island
The potato crop on Prince Edward Island experienced almost ideal growing conditions for the first 90 to 100 days of the growing season, the update says. The province received 130 plus mm of rain during July.
“Excellent moisture allowed development of strong canopies, and subsequent sunshine in recent days has advanced the tuber bulking stage of the crop. Some growers feel their crop is a week to ten days ahead of normal maturity.”
There is additional moisture needed to finish off the crop though, as it has been 14 days since the last rain. Early harvest has started, but industry continues to run old crop for processing and table.
The potato crop in New Brunswick has been good to excellent, the update notes. It has been dry in the northern part of the province. Moisture levels have been better in the south, but rain is still needed across the province to finish off the crop.
“The hot temperatures last week did stress the crop but with the large tuber set this year, yield potential is still very high,” the update says.
Harvest has started on round whites with a good size profile being reported. Early chip harvest normally would have started by now, but has not due to lack of contracts with the chip company. French fry plants plan to star production at the end of August.
“Friers are showing interest in purchasing open potatoes to cover possible shortfalls in their western production regions.”
The growing season in Quebec started out with excellent conditions, but excessive heat and dry conditions have stressed the crop. The early table harvest has been going well with potential for a high yielding crop, while later season varieties could be impacted for yield and size, the update says.
“The situation could still improve if rain comes in time, but the size profile of russets will be smaller that of the earlier round whites.”
Early harvest of table, chip and processing potatoes is underway with reported yields being average to slightly above average, with good quality.
Demand for fresh potatoes is lower right now due to the excessive heat and people being on vacation, the report says. Demand for processing potatoes has been good.
Ontario’s potato crop has enjoyed a nice growing season with abundant rainfall through the province, the update notes.
“If anything, growers will need to be vigilant at harvest time to avoid bringing tubers in from lighter coloured and lower spots in fields which may have had a little too much water.”
The crop has been advancing early with some growers top killing a week to 10 days ahead of normal, the update says. Early table harvest is ongoing with good quality and yields reported. Early chip-stock harvest has been happening for three weeks now.
Manitoba potato growing regions have experienced severe drought with very hot and dry conditions. Many reservoirs in the fresh potato growing areas has been drained with yields substantially affected, the update says. Current estimates have the crop pegged at 50 per cent of normal yields.
“Rain is forecast for the weekend, but unfortunately many fields will not have the benefit of that moisture, as producers need to start top killing for harvest.”
The processing crop is seeing stress from the heat, particularly on Russet Burbanks. Early harvest of Rangers started on August 10 with yield expectations having been matched or exceeded, and good size profile, the update notes.
“Old crop finished over the weekend, although Simplot is planning on bringing in additional crop from North Dakota during this week.”
The Saskatchewan potato crop is looking decent despite the heat and drought, the update says. Growers have been able to keep crops water using irrigation. The crop is expected to be better than the last two years, in both terms of quality and yield.
The crop stages are wide ranging due to the heat and smoke from wildfires. Top killing started for seed potatoes on August 10, with harvest expected to start the first week of September, the update notes.
“Growers report higher demand for seed than seen in many years with a shortage of red seed expected to bring strong prices.”
Alberta potato crops are damaged from the excessive heat, the update says. The crops look lush and green on top, but underneath the crop is stressed.
“Stress to the potato vines caused much of the crop to dump its first set of tubers and the second set created, is a very low one. Good weather will be needed until the end of September to make at best an average crop.”
The yield could potentially be off by 15 to 20 per cent with variable size profiles and quality, the updates says. Early harvest started with chip potato yields around 12 tons per acre and processing Rangers at 10 to 11 tons per age.
“Demand for new crop is extremely high, but unfortunately the province is short on its ability to supply. Old crop and remaining inventory is empty.”
British Columbia has had record setting heat since June 15, the update says.
“Most growers have been able to keep water to the fields which should result in a good average yield but not like the one experienced last year.”
Early harvest has been ongoing for a while, with demand good. Many fields are sprout nipped now and more than a normal number of fields being topped at this time, the update notes.