Parts of Eastern Canada are facing drought conditions ranging from moderate to severe, while in Western Canada the crop is running behind schedule as processors push to get new crop harvest underway, according to an update from the United Potato Growers of Canada, published on August 20.
Rain is critically needed for Eastern Canada. On the Prairies yields are estimated to be average at best, the report notes.
Prince Edward Island
In early July there was optimism about the P.E.I. potato crop, however that has disappeared as high temperatures mixed with little rainfall and strong winds, have descended on the Island, the report says.
In the driest area, around Bedeque, they only received 1.5 inches of rain throughout June, July and August.
“There are growing districts on P.E.I. which have had a much better summer with timely rainfall events, but they have been very localized making predictions on crop yield almost impossible,” the report says.
The P.E.I. Potato Board is estimating overall production will be down 15 to 20 per cent at a minimum.
Field-fry chip harvest began last week with yields coming in below budget, however the quality and size profile is very good, the report notes. Cavendish Farms continues to process old crop potatoes, involving a handful of growers while the majority of the remaining 2019 volume is in company storages. Cavendish has indicated they will be starting with new crop on Sept. 10 — approximately a week later than usual.
There has been some limited early harvest of table potatoes mostly for local markets, Atlantic Canada, and Puerto Rico, the report says.
Test digs in P.E.I., indicate the crop is falling behind the previous four years data on both yield and size.
“Growers are concerned about the overall quality of the crop with regard to sugar ends, scab, and off- type. It has been a devastating summer for over half of P.E.I.’s family farms and communities.”
Growing conditions in New Brunswick have hot and dry also, the report notes. The St. Andre area seems to have received a couple more inches of rain throughout the season than the rest of the province.
Early potato varieties are suffering however the Russet Burbank crop is still holding up, the report notes.
“There is hardly any old crop left on the fresh side, and processing potatoes are on schedule to clean up soon as per contract delivery.”
New crop harvest has begun with chopstick yields being fair so far. Some early Superiors have also been dug green with lighter yields in the 225 cwt/acre range, the report says.
The province has also been very dry, however it caught the tail end of Hurricane Isaias a week ago which provided some much needed relief, the report says.
“Old crop is pretty much gone now, although it took longer than expected to move. The large supply of old crop left over, delayed start up harvest on new potatoes as growers waited for the system to clear itself rather than crowd the market during the transition period.”
Yields are down about 10 per cent with smaller tuber profiles, the report notes. However, quality is otherwise good on early maturing varieties impacted by the heat and dryness.
Growers are hopeful that the later varieties will size and provide an average (to slightly below average) yield, the report notes.
The growing season has been a hot one with dry conditions making it stressful on potato canopies, and heat runners being developed, the report says.
Parts of the Alliston area, where most of the storage crop is located, received several inches of rain over the period of a weekend creating some drown outs in low spots.
The southern part of the province remains dry where fresh harvest is underway.
Chip harvest is on schedule with chip companies accepting loads on schedule after old crop cleaned up early, the report notes. New crop development had been running about a week behind normal.
The fresh potato crops is desperate for a rain in the southern part of the province, the report says.
“The dryland area where a large portion of the table potatoes are grown, has received only two rains this season. The crop is seven to 10 days later due to a cool, wet spring,” the report says.
Fresh harvest is just getting started, tuber set is not outstanding on early fields.
The processing area of the province has also been dry with extreme heat issues creating runners and stolons, the report notes.
The crop outlook is mixed with some fields looking tired from the heat stress and others looking better.
“The crop was running a week behind average in maturity, however one processor started a week ago on Ranger Russets with good gravity and adequate size.”
The Ranger crop is expected to make average yields overall, however Shepodies are not as good, having lost some of their set. The Russet Burbank crop is expected to be down in yield.
Both processors in the province are running now, the report notes.
Growers are expecting a better crop than the previous two seasons, the report says.
Conditions have been fairly dry but not as hot and dry as last year. Most of the potato land is irrigated and pivots have been running for most of the summer.
Yield digs show a slightly higher yield than last year with a similar set and better size. Fresh crop harvest will start in soon, with top killing of seed having just begun this week.
The growing season has had it’s highs and lows in Alberta, the report says. Planting conditions were good, it was then followed by rain which downed some crops.
The northern region has seen the highest rainfall amounts accompanied by cooler, cloudier growing conditions, the report notes. There have also been a couple of damaging hailstorms this season. Overall, the early estimate of yield potential would seem to be average at best.
Chip harvest has been underway for three weeks with early yields being disappointing. Quality was good however, with a smaller sized profile. One fryer has started processing field run Rangers. The other processor is a week away from out of field deliveries.