[deck]Potatoes in storage numbers for 2013 show a crop pretty close in size to that of 2012. Last year’s yield figures were up, the result of generally good growing conditions across the country.[/deck]
January numbers for Canada’s storage holdings show the 2013 crop coming in just under the previous year, according to United Potato Growers of Canada figures listing the amount of potatoes in storage on Jan. 1, 2014 compared to the amount in storage on Jan. 1, 2013. The 17,663,000 hundredweight of potatoes in storage in Prince Edward Island at the end of 2013 represents a 1.5 per cent drop from 2012, while New Brunswick’s total of 9,070,000 hundredweight in storage is a 4.9 per cent decline. British Columbia is another province showing a decrease in the 2013 numbers, with its holdings of 656,000 hundredweight representing a 7.3 per cent drop.
“Last year, almost every area had good growing conditions. Crops sized up well and allowed pretty good sizing, pretty good quality. Moisture eventually came when it was needed, and all the things lined up for a good yield.”
— Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of UPGC
“We’re quite comfortable with the way our numbers are looking overall,” says Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of UPGC. “The production is pretty well matched in terms of what we need to meet our demand with, and secondly, we have shipped a fair number of potatoes for [this] time of the year.Holdings were up 19 per cent in Ontario, showing 4,959,000 hundredweight, as well as in Manitoba, where the 15,020,000 hundredweight of potatoes at the end of 2013 represents an 11.9 per cent increase from 2012. Potatoes in storage in Alberta showed 12,741,000 hundredweight of potatoes at the end of 2013, a 6.2 per cent increase. The Jan. 1, 2014, storage holdings figures for Quebec and Saskatchewan were unavailable.
“The crop is storing well. … I would say we have very good quality in most areas. There have been a few little issues, but nothing significant,” MacIsaac says. “We don’t expect to have a lot of cullage compared to some years.”
Another bright spot for farmers is that yield numbers for the 2013 crop are also up. MacIsaac has tracked the figures over the past 28 years, and last year’s yields “were the highest that we’ve had, so there’s some good production there.
“Growers always like to have good yields,” he says. “Part of their thing with good management is the desire to grow better crops, and they’ve certainly done that.”
Good growing seasons across the country in 2013 contributed to the excellent yields.
“Last year, almost every area had good growing conditions. Crops sized up well, and allowed pretty good sizing, pretty good quality,” he says. “Moisture eventually came when it was needed, and all the things lined up for a good yield.”
“Optimism is there for this year,” says MacIsaac, but he cautions growers not to fall into the trap of overproduction, which can negatively affect prices.
“After having a good year, growers tend to be a little more confident than perhaps they should [be],” says MacIsaac, whose advice for farmers in 2014 is “just be cautious about what you’re doing. Don’t overplant.”
In the United States, growers produced 25.3 million hundredweight fewer potatoes in 2013 than they did in 2012, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. The U.S. production total of just over 437 million hundredweight represents a 5.5 per cent decrease from the 2012 crop.
MacIsaac says that’s good news for Canadian producers, who definitely felt a price pinch when U.S. potato growers, particularly in the Pacific Northwest region, produced a large oversupply in 2012.