Canada is expected to produce 116.9 million cwt of potatoes this year, which is 14.5 per cent more than the 2020 crop, the Sept. 9 issue of the North American Potato Market News (NAPM) says. While this crop is larger than last years, the latest estimate is 700,000 cwt less than NAPM‘s August forecast.
The crop is predicted to be larger than last year’s due to a 17,600 acre increase in harvested area. Strong yields in the eastern provinces should make up for the reduced yields in Western Canada due to the drought, NAPM notes. If the estimates are accurate Canada will harvest its largest crop on record.
NAPM is forecasting the Canadian national potato yield to be 313.9 cwt per acre, which is up from last year’s 293.7 cwt.
Drought conditions have improved in parts of Western Canada, however NAPM notes the cooler temperatures and precipitation may have come too late to help the crop outlook. The Maritime provinces have received timely rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
“Hurricane Larry is expected to bring additional moisture later this week, increasing the risk of harvest and storage problems due to excessive moisture. Growers will be pushing to get this year’s crop in storage during the next several weeks.”
Processing potato supplies could be tight this year, NAPM says. Processors have been eager to start running new potato supplies but many growers are delaying harvest in order to give tubers time to bulk up.
While growers in Manitoba and Alberta are expected to produce nine per cent more potatoes this year, it will not be enough to fill increased processing capacity in those provinces. In the Maritimes the supply situation is better than it was last year — as long as weather is favourable during harvest. Prince Edward Island should harvest a 22.4 per cent larger crop and New Brunswick a 47 per cent bigger crop.
Chip potato production in the eastern provinces, which is Canada’s largest production area for chips, should supply processors with ample supplies.
Table Potato Market Plentiful
The table potato market is expected to be abundant this year, NAPM says. Most of Canada’s production is in the eastern provinces which have reported some of the best growing conditions in several years.
“Some provinces could produce record-breaking yields this year if weather remains favourable during the harvest season. Excessive heat could reduce this year’s size profile in the western provinces.”
However, table potato movement has been sluggish in both Canada and the United States, NAPM notes. U.S. table potato shipments for the week ending Sept. 4 were 16.4 per cent less than last year, marking the smallest number in at least 15 years. Marketers are hopeful though business will pick up with cooler weather.