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[deck]Heading into harvest, Canada’s potato crop production numbers for 2016 were expected to be down from 2015.[/deck]

In many parts of the country, it was a very hot, dry summer. As a result, this year’s total potato production numbers likely will be down from the record-setting crop of 2015 and that could spell good news on the price front, according to Kevin MacIsaac.

The general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) told Spud Smart in late August that final production and yield figures won’t be tallied until November, but preliminary numbers looked encouraging heading into harvest for potato supply and anticipated marketplace demand.

“In Eastern Canada, which is where a big part of the table stock production is, [supply] is going to be down compared to where we were last year, and that will be good for fresh producers,” MacIsaac says.

“Then when you look at the west, which is certainly geared largely towards processing, they have a good crop but that’s contracted acres, so they should be in good shape as well,” he notes. “I like where we are right now.”

Yield estimates for the 2016 crop the UPGC received from regional potato associations in mid-August show a decline in total production and yields nationally from 2015, a record year for potato yields in many parts of the country.

Some areas, MacIsaac noted, were looking to come in below average trend lines for yield this year while others had an excellent looking crop heading into harvest. “It just depends on what part of the country,” he notes.

According to MacIsaac, rain was in short supply in P.E.I. and in Ontario’s potato producing areas for much of the summer, which impacted early season varieties. Quebec also experienced a lack of moisture in many areas, he notes, while there was too much rainfall in the SaguenayLacSaint-Jean region.

Producers in New Brunswick, on the other hand, had an excellent growing season overall. “Last year was a very good yielding year for them, and it has potential to be as good this year and may even exceed that in some parts of the province,” MacIsaac says. “They had rainfall when they needed it and the crop was in in good time.”

Growing conditions were also generally good in Manitoba, MacIsaac notes, although rain in the latter part of August raised concerns about late blight.

“The crop had really good yield potential, equivalent to last year if not better. There’s a lot of disease pressure due to that rainfall and it may be a difficult crop to store. We’ll have to see how that plays into the big picture.”

According to MacIsaac, Alberta and B.C. both had great looking potato crops at the end of August. “Last year was a record-setter for [Alberta producers], and I think this year has the potential to be very good too,” he notes. “I think B.C. will be right up there as well.”

MacIsaac says Idaho also had a very good growing season. That, coupled with more potato acres being planted there in 2015 compared to the previous year, will likely mean extra production that will have an impact on prices.

“I think oversupply will be an issue there.”

U.S. MARKET NEWS

Fall potato production in the United States is expected to be down slightly compared to a year ago, according to Bruce Huffaker of the North American Potato Market News.

Huffaker expects U.S. growers to produce 394.2 million hundredweight of fall potatoes in 2016, a one per cent decline from 2015. That puts the average yield for U.S. fall potatoes at 440 hundredweight per acre, he says.

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