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[deck]An acreage increase in the U.S., along with U.S. old crop stock potatoes still in the mix, will mean challenges heading into the harvest season for Canadian growers.[/deck]

Canadian acreage estimates are up, but a combination of poor weather in some growing areas and deliberate control of acreage has left the country in a manageable position. “Overall, I think we’re relatively pleased with Canada’s acreage,” says Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada.

“In terms of numbers, we’re certainly up in acres in some provinces, Prince Edward Island for example—we’re expecting to be up about 3,500 acres, a lot of those on the processing side. New Brunswick’s acres are up significantly on the processing side but also down in the fresh and seed side, so they have a net effect of being up in the 2,000 acre range.”

With the exception of some provinces, including B.C., most provinces are up in acreage—but MacIsaac sees this as positive for the markets, as most increases in acreage are due to processing contracts.

When it comes to prices headed into the fall, MacIsaac is confident that Canada can overcome its challenges. Key among these is the fact that the U.S. still has a significant amount of old crop potatoes to shed. “They’re trying to market them as we’re starting into a new crop in Canada. Also, there’s a significant acreage increase in Idaho, a big producer of fresh market potatoes, and that will be a challenge.

“However, in Canada we’ve done very well in controlling our acreage to what the market can use in a normal year,” says MacIsaac. “We need to convince our buyers that we’ve done that and we’ve produced a crop that’s suitable to meet market demand.”

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