AgronomyEye on the Nation

Eye on the Nation


New Brunswick

By Louis Ouellette – Market Information Co-ordinator, Potatoes New Brunswick

The 2015 New Brunswick potato crop got off to a slightly late and slow start with June being cool and a little damp. The first half of July was dry with warm temperatures. Starting around mid-July, timely and adequate rainfall hit most areas of the New Brunswick potato belt.

The majority of growers are expecting a minimum of an average to an above-average yielding crop. We will not see as big of a difference between the northern and southern potato-growing regions this year as last. The northern growers are anticipating yields close to last year’s, while growers in the southern region had more rain than last year and expect to see their yields improve with this crop.

Early indications for the 2015 crop were showing good to excellent quality and size with an average set. While seed growers were busy getting this year’s crop ready for storage, the main harvest for Russet Burbank processing potatoes and the table crop got underway the last week of September and continued into October. With beautiful late September weather, it was expected that the Russet Burbank crop would continue to bulk up until it was harvested.

The total planted acreage in New Brunswick this year is similar to 2014, with about 500 fewer acres planted in 2015.


By Desseri Ackerman – Manager, Saskatchewan Seed Potato Growers Association

For the most part, Saskatchewan producers have reported a good growing season. Though there were several significant rain events in August, these did not impact crops to any extent. Saskatchewan producers were able to start harvest a little earlier this year. Crop yields are reported to range from average to high, with minimal issues in quality. 

The Saskatchewan Seed Potato Growers Association held its field day on Aug. 17 and had a good turnout. The guest speakers addressed micronutrient issues and the benefits of soil and plant testing to ascertain field and crop needs. Several tips on the longevity of specific micronutrient applications were offered.

SSPGA is planning its annual general meeting for Nov. 10 in Outlook, Sask. Given the success of our producer workshop earlier this year, SSPGA is planning to hold another workshop in February of 2016.

SSPGA has committed to support local research into establishing an early warning system for late blight and other diseases. This research will start in the coming crop year and will benefit many crops.


By Dan Sawatzky – General Manager, Keystone Potato Producers Association

For those unfamiliar with potato production in Manitoba, you may not realize the geographical diversity of the province’s potato-growing area.

On the southeastern edge, approximately 200 kilometres west of the Ontario border and adjacent to the United States, fresh production is almost exclusively grown along with some processing, seed and chipping potatoes. The region where the majority of processing production occurs extends from there about 150 kilometres north and 200 kilometres west, ending about 150 kilometres east of the Saskatchewan border.

Within this geography there are a number of variables such as soil type, weather variation and irrigation capability. These factors affect Manitoba production and quality on any given year and usually result in a crop with
some variability.

2015 has been no exception. In general, the early start allowed planting to progress rapidly, bringing optimism of a higher yield potential with it. But localized rain led to some reseeding. During the growing season rainfall was sporadic and often coupled with excessive moisture and hail. August heat seemed to stall bulking, and midway through harvest yield results were mixed.

As of mid-September, quality appeared to be good and digging conditions had been close to ideal. Strong yields and good quality have resulted from the direct delivered fall crop. With continued good weather, we anticipate a good overall average crop going into storage. A smooth transition from old crop to new occurred Aug. 15 through 25..

The summer research field day held Aug. 11 at the Canada-Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre in Carberry, Man., focused on a variable rate irrigation demonstration with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada personnel, agronomists, producers and equipment suppliers contributing to the discussion. Updates on crop development/disease issues and some ongoing site research were also reported on.

Manitoba Potato Production Days, our annual potato conference, will be held Jan. 26 to 28 in Brandon, Man. More details are available at


By Terence Hochstein – Executive Director, Potato Growers of Alberta

The affects of Alberta’s early spring start continued to roll on right into the fall. Most growers were able to maintain that 10-day advantage achieved through early planting throughout the growing season, with harvest getting underway mid-August for many growers that had early or field-run contracts.

Storage Russets were being binned by the first week of September, which is highly unusual for Alberta. The central and northern seed growing areas of the province that do not have the advantage of irrigation took a bit of a hit from Mother Nature this year, as many areas had no significant rainfall since June. Remarkably, a seed crop was produced there, albeit with a reduced size and yield. 

Test digs in the chip and fry varieties in September indicated that growers should experience an average to slightly above average yield with their crop this year. Only when the sheds are full will we truly know the numbers for this year’s crop.

Two main research projects that the Potato Growers of Alberta is involved in have shown to be very effective in providing results as anticipated.

The late blight spore-trapping program is in year two of a three-year project. The data that has been collected has provided an early warning system that the growers have been able to follow with regards to their fungicide application scheduling. One isolated case of late blight (which followed a hail storm) was the only incidence of the disease that the Alberta growers had to deal with this year.

The aphid/psyllid monitoring program was also a great success with the early detection of the potato psyllid pest occurring in mid-August. All testing of the psyllids have been negative for Lso infection (zebra chip).

Plans are well underway for the 49th annual Alberta Potato Conference and Trade Show being held Nov. 17 to 19 in Red Deer, Alta. This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Alberta Potato Industry Association (APIA). The APIA has been our partner on the tradeshow and other numerous occasions throughout the years.

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the PGA. Our celebrations will be held during next year’s Alberta Potato Conference and Trade Show to be held Nov. 21 to 23, 2016 at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alta. For more information on either this year’s or next year’s potato show, contact the PGA office at 403-223-2262.


By Clement Lalancette – General Manager, Federation des Producteurs de Pommes de Terre du Quebec

This year, we could achieve a higher level of production than in 2014. As of mid-September, Quebec potato growers have had very good, above-average yields. We also have had nice quality with no major issues.

September has been exceptionally hot and sunny and everything is in place to have good harvest. Unfortunately, that also means a lot of pressure on potato prices following weak demand in summer months. The overlap effect of old potatoes still on our market at this time of the year does not help in terms of reaching a good price.

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