Here is your provincial potato association updates from across Canada for the fall 2022 issue of Spud Smart.
By: Terence Hochstein, executive director of the Potato Growers of Alberta
Although somewhat better than the 2021 crop, its looking like the 2022 crop will come up short in some grower’s minds. The cold, dry spring in southern Alberta has left the crop a little bit short of expectations. Last winter once again left very little in the way of snow cover in the south and with very little soil moisture the spring did not start out great. April and May were very cold and dry, and the crop did nothing until the irrigation and June rains came along. It appears a lot of the potential diminished with the dry conditions. We did get some July rains as well, but the extreme heat returned again this summer and the crop once again suffered from the hot, windy conditions. When you are still reaching mid to high 30 C temperatures in September, there’s not a lot of good to come from that. The early crop had a somewhat small profile, although the quality was second to none. We’ll have to wait and see how the storage crop looks when it is all in the shed.
On the other hand, the seed industry had a very good growing season. The spring started off with great soil moisture and planting conditions were ideal. Throughout the growing season the rains were plenty, and in some cases, there were a few acres that were drowned out, but most growers were happy to lose a few acres compared to last year’s extreme heat and drought. AS of mid-September indications are that the early harvest is show good yields and excellent quality. They could use a bit of rain to soften things up to avoid bruising as harvest continues.
The annual Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) Conference and Tradeshow will once again be held in Red Deer, Alta. on Nov. 15-17. After not having the opportunity to host this event the last two years, everyone is looking forward to continuing the tradition. More details are available on the PGA website.
Hugh Reynolds with Reynalda Farms in Delta, B.C.
British Columbia potatoes are starting to move into storage with good quality but some inconsistent yields as of Sept. 13. Many fields have been top killed, but lots are still green as growers are looking for more bulking. Bigger potatoes mean higher yields but more importantly higher prices for count sized cartons.
Heavy rain this spring has kept the Fraser River fresh water flow stronger than normal and allowed us to irrigate right through August. B.C.’s heavy delta clay allows us to grow some wonderful crops but this plays against us if the November rains come early. The potato variety trials on Aug. 24 surprised us with the sizing we saw even then.
The wheels are in motion for harvest but the weather is unpredictable. Good luck and work safe as we are hoping for a good fall harvest.
By: Dan Sawatzky, general manager of the Keystone Potato Producers Association
Following a late start with spring planting, close to ideal growing conditions over most of the summer have helped the crop gain some ground. A three-week delay in seeding is difficult to overcome. The crop is still behind normal development as evidenced by the direct Ranger Russet crop coming in with below average yields. The off-field harvest began a few days later than normal and August deliveries tracked below last year’s level. Processors supplemented local supplies with potatoes from Alberta and North Dakota in the early harvest to allow for more growth and yield here in the province.
Early indications of the Umatilla crop being harvested appear promising. More time is needed for the main storage Russet Burbank crop to bulk up. Some growers are pushing back harvest a day or two but too much more than that increases the risk of frost damage at the end of season. The average date of a killing frost is Sept. 18. Last year that date was Oct. 20. These first frosts generally aren’t hard enough to damage tubers, but the memory of frozen potatoes left in the ground in 2018 and 2019 is still fresh on many minds. A target harvest completion date for most producers is still Oct. 1. This leaves a very short harvest period with the hope that there won’t be too many harvest delays due to weather interruptions or equipment breakdowns or labour shortages.
Labour continues to be more of an issue for farms especially during the harvest period. Good short-term help is hard to find. Repeat laborers eventually age out and there are fewer people in rural areas to replace them.
Growers are generally optimistic as harvest gets underway. Some descent drying weather has allowed good progress with some of the rotational crops prior to the main potato harvest. These crops have also been pushed back by the late wet spring. Wishing everyone a safe and bountiful harvest.
Planning is underway for Manitoba Potato Production Days to be held Jan. 24-26. This will mark the 50th anniversary of the show. All are invited. Registration should be open by late October.
By: Matt Hemphill, executive director of New Brunswick Potatoes
Planting season in New Brunswick got off to a slow start. We experienced torrential downpours in small pockets of the province which caused washouts totalling two per cent of the crop.
Overall, we planted 500 more acres to last year. Fresh and seed acreage is down slightly with processing being up.
Fast forward to mid-September, the growing season has been favourable, therefore we expect to harvest an average crop here in New Brunswick.
The quality of this year’s crop will be ideal for market conditions across all three sectors — table, seed and processing.
By: Kevin Brubacher, general manager of the Ontario Potato Board
The 2022 growing season has been a challenge across the province of Ontario. Throughout the summer months most areas dealt with extreme drought conditions, minimizing yields, and forcing producers to irrigate. Some areas were more fortunate than others, receiving a few timely rains. Overall Ontario producers are expecting a below average yielding crop with exceptional quality.
At the time of writing this in mid-September, harvest of the 2022 Ontario summer potato crop is well underway. Due sluggish movement in the fresh market, harvest will be drawn out longer than usual. Harvest began on the fresh potato crop in mid-July with harvest of the storage crop beginning mid- September into October. Pricing has been relatively strong; however we are seeing extreme pressure on the Ontario market from out of province at the time of writing this.
In the next week or two, harvest of the storage crop will be in full swing for both fresh and process potatoes. We are hopeful this year’s excellent quality can somewhat offset poor yields.
The annual general meeting of the Ontario Potato Board is scheduled to take place on Dec. 7. We invite anyone interested in attending to please do so. Direct any questions regarding the AGM to the board office at [email protected] or call (519) 846-5553.
By: Sarah-Maude Larose-Lavallée, project officer for Les Producteurs de pommes de terre du Québec
Growing conditions have been good so far, and harvest of early varieties is progressing satisfactorily.
Under the warm and humid conditions that we had this summer, growers vigilantly monitored for late blight symptoms as disease pressure was higher than usual.
Early indications for the 2022 crop are showing above-average yield with good quality; however, the final outcome will only be known following the completion of the harvest. Plants are in variable growth stages across the province as the late spring led to some growers planting as late as June 20. Some fields have lower overall yields because of uneven emergence. At the time of writing, harvest is just around the corner for the storage crop, and Russet potatoes still need time for bulking and maturing.
To the great benefit of all, many field days have returned this year, from variety trials to potato research showcases. On Nov. 24, Les Producteurs de pommes de terre du Québec will host our annual banquet in Québec.