This year’s potato crop in Canada is expected to be better aligned with consumer demand — which means a better pricing picture for the winter marketing season than last year — according to the United Potato Growers of Canada.
Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the UPGC, says this is the result of smaller crops in both Canada and the United States. According to Statistics Canada estimates, Canadian growers planted 3.2 per cent fewer acres in 2013 than in 2012, while this year’s American potato acreage is down significantly more than that.
MacIsaac says potato production is “pretty evenly matched” this year in terms of market needs for processing, fresh and seed potatoes. For growers, this is a welcome change from last year, when higher than expected acreage in Canada and the U.S. led to an overabundance of tubers — and plummeting potato prices as a result.
“We should be looking at a pretty decent year in terms of what could be the pricing, because our acreage is not out of line. A year ago, acreage was out of line, especially in the U.S. but also there was a few too many potatoes in Canada,” says MacIsaac. “This year, our production is down in both countries, so we should in theory be looking at a good marketing year.”
Yields for the 2013 potato crop are expected to be average or slightly below average in most areas of the country, according to MacIsaac. That’s pretty impressive considering the sluggish start to the 2013 growing season.
“Amazingly enough, the crop has caught up in a lot of areas,” MacIsaac says, adding harvesting reports as of mid-September were excellent in many regions including Manitoba. He says yields may actually be up from last year in Ontario and Alberta if harvesting stays on track.
While yields appear to be relatively unaffected, late plantings this year will likely mean smaller potatoes going to market, generally. MacIsaac says hot and dry conditions in many potato-producing areas in the United States over the summer have led to smaller than normal potato profiles in the marketplace, and he expects the same to occur here. “We will see some of that lower-sized profile right across the board in Canada, I think,” he says.
In the United States, potato production is down significantly from last year, according to Bruce Huffaker’s North American Potato Market News. Huffaker is expecting U.S. growers to produce 528.9 million hundredweight of potatoes in 2013. That falls 35 million hundredweight short of the 2012 crop, which represents a 6.2 per cent drop. Cuts in U.S. fall production account for almost 84 per cent of this year’s production decline.