Canadian potato production is down an estimated 7,000,000 hundred weight from 2019 and also below the five year average, according to an update from the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC), published on Oct. 26.
UPGC had previously estimated the Canadian crop to be down by 6,000,000 hundred weight due to the hot, dry growing season most provinces experienced. The estimate was revised though after New Brunswick growers finished harvesting and realized they had one of their lowest yields on record.
Overall the Canadian potato harvest is almost done with some spuds still in the ground in Quebec where it is estimated they are 90 per cent finished, the report notes. In other parts of the country growers received some of the best harvest weather in years and were able to finish ahead of schedule.
“Looking across the various sectors, fresh production has been shortened up in the provinces of P.E.I. and New Brunswick. Table potatoes have been moving from Quebec into New Brunswick for some time now to replenish some of that supply,” the report says.
French fry plants in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Manitoba will likely need to import potatoes to fulfill their needs. Seed potato supplies could be tight next spring, the report notes. With increased chip production demand, all of that supply in Ontario and Quebec will be needed.
Prince Edward Island
The potato harvest on the island is 98 per cent done with the rest expected to be finished up in the next few days.
The central part of the island, where 50 per cent of the crop is grown, was the most affected by the drought this summer, the report notes. Yields in non-irrigated fields in this area have been variable with most are down significantly.
Provincial production is expected to be done 15 per cent this year. Gravities have been high and overall quality is excellent so storability should be very good, the report says.
Harvest is done in New Brunswick with all acres being harvested due to excellent harvest conditions, the report says. However, yields are down 25 to 40 per cent depending on location with those further north seeing better yields
“Overall this is the smallest crop that many long-term growers can remember. The size was smaller on some varieties, but those with a lower set did size up well.”
It is expected there will be a supply shortage in all sectors. Some table supply has been brought in from Quebec.
The potato crop in Quebec was poised to be one of the best in the country this season however cold, wet weather changed that, the report notes. Harvest is estimated at 90 per cent done, with growers in Gaspe, Rimouski, and Lac-St. Jean areas struggling to finish in cold and wet conditions.
“Yields have been good, especially on the late season Russets, although cullage may be a little higher on defects such as off-type, and growth cracks.”
Some acres may be abandoned in fields due to the weather.
Harvest is basically complete in Ontario with just a few acres on heavier ground waiting for drier conditions.
“Although the early fresh crop started off a bit light due to hot dry conditions, irrigation was a key component for some growers and good rainfall made the storage crop for others.”
With the increased demand for chips, there may need to be some potatoes from the fresh side pulled to meet demand, the report notes. Fresh potatoes should also be in demand with good pricing due to the overall table reduction in the four eastern provinces.
Harvest for both table and processing potatoes was done in record time, the report says.
“Harvest conditions were good with the exception of one or two hot days during late September. Conditions also got dryer as harvest progressed.”
Quality for the processing crop is good but not outstanding, however it should store well. Yields were lower than needed and production will likely be 15 per cent short of processors needs.
Yields for table potatoes are near average despite the hot, dry summer. Tuber sizes have been variable with a combination of small and large potatoes coming from the same field.
Harvest is complete in Saskatchewan, with very good conditions and no abandoned acres, the report notes. Yields were similar, but slightly below last year.
The potato harvest is done in Alberta, with many growers finished by the end of the first week of October.
“Harvest conditions were excellent, in fact, some of the best in years, and a reprieve from last year’s difficult one. Any unharvested acres were likely more related to drown outs from earlier in the spring.”
Quality has been good for both the seed and processing crop, the report says. Yields have very good on the seed crop and better than expected for the processing crop. Processor demand has been filled, with processors purchasing some extra potatoes to move out of the province.
The harvest in B.C. finished weeks ago with good harvest conditions. Any acres left, were due to lack of storage space rather than weather related issues, the report notes.
The crop experienced good maturity which in turn provided great quality. Yields are were equal to those of last year.
Russets are a bit short in supply, but there are additional yellows available for export. B.C. is expecting the market to be stable this year for both supply and pricing.