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[deck]Production estimates have returned close to five-year averages. The quality of the Canadian crop is good overall, and pricing is at respectable levels across the country.[/deck]

Recent production estimates from the United Potato Growers of Canada indicate that across Canada, production has returned close to the five-year average. One year ago, production was significantly reduced in many areas due to weather-related issues. For the 2012 crop, according to Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of UPGC, “we had started our projections using average numbers, but we lowered them quite dramatically in the middle of the summer, because a lot of the growing areas were under too little moisture.” Closer to harvest, he says, “we’ve increased the numbers a bit because a lot of areas had some rainfall.” At the end of September, estimated fresh production stood at 23,981,000 hundredweight with total production estimated at 98,910,000 cwt overall, compared to 95,844,000 cwt last year.

More concerning to UPGC than acreage was yield at the beginning of the season, says MacIsaac. “Almost every area thought they’d be looking at a lower level of marketable potatoes off the acre,” he says. “Some areas were too dry, in some areas the size profile [of the potatoes] was smaller, and some areas were getting too much rain. Even though we hadn’t increased our acreage at the start, we were concerned that if we had average to above-average yields, we’d have an issue, but that hasn’t happened.”

In terms of marketing, MacIsaac anticipates an upswing in potato sales during the fall season. “You can almost see it change when kids go back to school, and we always see a bump at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he says. “Right now, for what we’re putting into the marketplace, prices are reasonable. The recommended price in Ontario would be $2.30–$2.50 per 10-pound bag, and this is about the same in Quebec and Prince Edward Island. Most areas have a good level of pricing.”

In terms of supply, the picture is still positive, MacIsaac says. “We really should be pretty well matched for our supply in Canada compared to what we need. I guess the issue will be what happens in the United States—they have a significant increase in potatoes to market [this year], more than last year. Probably, a little later in the season, we in Canada will see some effects of that.”

market_news_estprod_fall2012

Right now, for what we’re putting into the marketplace, prices are reasonable.

– Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of UPGC

In the United States, production is up, with an estimated 8.7 per cent increase over last year, according to early October estimates in Bruce Huffaker’s North American Potato Market News. According to the report, U.S. export sales surpassed last year’s sales at this time by 16.4 per cent, with increases in both fresh and frozen export categories. A decreased European crop this year may drive some North American exports, writes Huffaker. “Increased North American potato production may allow the U.S. and Canada to fill the gap left by Europe’s smaller crop. However, the potatoes are not all in ideal locations to use for export production. Production capacity constraints also may limit this year’s exports.”

Market information courtesy of the UPGC, UPGA and industry partners: Bayer CropScience and Bruce Huffaker, market analyst and publisher of North American Potato Market News.

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