Potato Planting Winding Up in West, Ramping Up in the East

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Potato field
Photo: Pixabay

Potato growers across Canada are busy with planting for the 2021 growing season, the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) says in a news release on May 27. Seeding in Western Canada is winding up, while growers in the Atlantic region are in full planting mode.

Prince Edward Island

Planting conditions in April pointed towards an early spring in Prince Edward Island, however most of May has been cool and wet causing planting delays, UPGC says. Planting is about 25 per cent done.

Acreage could be up from last year. UPGC says there is hope there will not be a drought again like last summer, which should lead to at least average or better yields and increase overall production.

“The province is optimistic that market demand will be increasing this year and into the new year following recovery from COVID. Fresh inventory is low, with packers finishing up early, and/or managing their inventory according to their customer’s needs. Seed has also been extremely tight to plant this crop,” the report says.

New Brunswick

Planting is about 85 per cent done in New Brunswick with many farmers having a day or two left to finish up, UPGC says.

“Soil was cool earlier on, but also very dry, allowing for good progress — some farms have been done for a week or so and have received precipitation in the last few days.”

There has been some reduction in chip potato acres but growers. These acres have been converted to french fry production to fill increase contract volumes, the report notes. Limited seed supply was a challenging factor in the shift over though.

Quebec

Ideal planting conditions in Quebec have allowed growers to get about 85 per cent of the crop in the ground, the report says.

“Although the spring has been windy and dry, most areas received much needed rainfall yesterday, making for good soil conditions,” UPGC says.

A slight acreage increase is expected for the fresh and seed sectors while chips will likely remain flat, the report notes. Processing acres for french fries will need to move up by 15 per cent due to increased contract volumes.

“The pandemic has brought an increase in demand from the retail sector and the province now expects food service demand to ramp up within a week of seeing restrictions being lifted for sit down restaurants and large group gatherings. If demand does come back aggressively it will be challenged by low inventories of available supply.”

Ontario

Potato planting in Ontario is about 90 per cent done with most growers should able to finish up by the weekend, UPGC says.

“In the northern area, soil temperatures have been ideal for planting, although cooler for germination and growth. Growers in the south west started planting in mid-April, finishing up ten days ago with hardly any rain delays. Earlier fields have good emergence.”

Acreage should be similar to last year, although consistent chip demand could see some acres shift from fresh, the report notes.

Manitoba

Processing acres in Manitoba were planted by mid-May, the report says. To date seed piece development has been good with the first planted fields of Ranger Russets beginning to emerge. Fresh potato planting in the province went well, with yellow acres unchanged, while red acres are down slightly compared to last year.

“Soil conditions were extremely dry during planting, however some much needed rain of between 20 and 50 mm fell over the potato growing region in the past seven days. Soil conditions still remain dry at lower depths and some reservoirs remain empty. Some increase in runoff was observed to help bring the Shellmouth Dam Reservoir, which supplies water for irrigation out of the Assiniboine River, to summer operating levels.”

Saskatchewan

Potato growers in Saskatchewan experienced an early spring and like other western provinces planted into very dry conditions, UPGC notes. The province usually plants around 6,000 acres.

Alberta

In Alberta, most processing growers in the Taber region finished up planting by mid-May, the report says. Planting conditions were extremely dry, however rainfall amounts of 15-18 mm were reported in the southern area over the weekend. Warm temperatures have provided good growth on potato hills.

Seed growers in the northern part of the province have about a week of planting left with soil conditions having been better due to good moisture carryover.

Overall potato acreage in Alberta will need to increase as the province returns to 2019 levels, UPGC says.

British Columbia

British Columbia had cool but clear weather in April and May which allowed for early and steady planting, the report notes. Most growers finished up by mid-May.

“The first early Warba’s were planted on March 3 and came to market on May 20, although recent rains have hindered digging. Steady supplies of varieties without skin set for local markets will not be available until well into June.”

Potato acreage may increase slightly with some shift away from Warba and Chieftain varieties, UPGC notes.

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