As the Canadian potato harvest rolls on, early reports point towards there not being spud shortages this year.

Following a growing season which saw hot, dry weather in the west and wet weather in the east, Canadian potato yields are looking decent. Good weather throughout planting was able to give the crops the leg up they needed to make it through the tougher conditions during the summer.

“It’s pretty early,” Victoria Stamper, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, says in a phone interview. “Growers are not yet in a position to comment on overall yields for storage crop, but for those who have harvested to date we have had reports of good yields on trend, with the exception of perhaps Quebec.”

Victoria Stamper
Victoria Stamper, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada

From Manitoba through the rest of the western provinces, growers had to battle with hot dry conditions. In British Columbia Stamper says she’s received reports that potato fields saw two and half months with no rain, only finally receiving some precipitation in the form of a small rain shower at the end of July and then a thunderstorm at the end of August.

In the east however it’s been the opposite with Quebec receiving rain all summer long. Ontario also received quite a bit of rain. The wet conditions in the two provinces did cause the perfect circumstances for late blight to form, with a few reports of cases in Ontario and one case in Quebec during the growing season. However, Stamper notes the cases were isolated with growers able to get them under control.

“P.E.I. and New Brunswick are like Ontario, they are very well saturated, but not quite as bad as Quebec, I would say,” Stamper says. “By the end of August, growers in the Maritimes were reporting they had enough rain, and to date the crops were looking good.”

According to the Statistics Canada acreage report released in July, Canadian potato growers planted 396,922 acres of potatoes, up from 387,103 acres in 2022 — marking the largest potato crop planted in Canada in more than a decade. According to Stamper the industry isn’t expecting there to be shortages within the processing or fresh sectors, but there will still be spuds being shipped from Alberta to Manitoba this year.

“It’s not because there’s a problem with the crop. Manitoba at this point just can’t plant enough acres to supply their internal processing capacity. So, it’s not a result of a short crop or a problem with the crop or anything like that. It’s just the nature of the beast right now in terms of planted acreage,” she explains.

There could be some opportunities for more Canadian spuds to make the trip across the Atlantic though. Early season harvest reports had European yields lower, but as the crop has bulked up yields have improved. However, Stamper says there still could be export opportunities as there has been a shift of planted acreage from fresh to processing as the global demand for processing has increased.

“North America is looking at how can we take advantage of any shortage in the European crop either directly through shipments of fresh, or more likely though exports of frozen product, which is not something under grower control. And shipments of fresh would have to be well planned and organized to arrive in good condition over those distances,” Stamper adds. “It is likely Europe would look closer to home for their needs.”

In Canada, the seed industry has been responding to the increased processing demand with a bump in seed potato acreage. More seed acres were planted in Quebec and Stamper notes there are reports of more people looking at the seed acreage in Saskatchewan and possibilities there.

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