b'EYE ON THE NATION ALBERTA BRITISH COLUMBIATerence Hochstein, executive director ofAndre Solymosi, general manager of the B.C. the Potato Growers of Alberta Vegetable Marketing Commission When I look back at our last edition of Eye on the Nation, theThe 2021 B.C. harvest was good and is comparable to 2020. The Alberta industry was still optimistic they would be holding areal story happened just as the last fields were being lifted. There live AGM and tradeshow. We all know how that ended and threewere some heavy rains, which int unusual, but the frequency of months later the world is still in a state of flux with the lateststorms became an issue. variant of COVID-19, Omicron, wreaking havoc on the everydayThe storms were cool which meant there was heavy and lives of so many people.early snow on the mountains. A sustained low-pressure system The open, late fall, while a blessing for harvest, has proven togot bigger and kept directing low pressure waves towards the have created its own set of challenges for the Alberta growers.B.C. coast. The heavy rains pulled warm air from the south and After a summer of extreme heat and very little moisture, the croppushed up the freezing level so there was a massive snow melt. was able to grow two to three weeks longer than normal, whichThe soils were already at field water capacity and many slopes helped somewhat with the bulking of what was there. Overall,started to slump. All rivers and streams were at a full tear and the entire industry here in Alberta was off about 10 to 15 per centthe new mud and rocks instantly started to tear down bridges of their long-term average yields. and change the valley shapes. In places, kilometres of roads With the crop safely in storage it appeared the worst wasdisappeared, rails were left hanging, and oil pipelines were behind us, but unbeknownst to everyone was the long-termfloating where they once were buried. Houses and cars with effects of the heat dome on the crop in storage. To date, growerspeople in them were swept away. Its amazing so few people had and processors have had to be at their finest to manage storagesactually died. and maximize the value of the crop coming out for processing. Lets hope this is soon behind us and the rest of the storage season is relatively uneventful. There have been more questionsWe are fortunate most of the potato than answers about what caused some of the storage issues thatstorages and packing sheds were the growers are facing, and it will be a miracle if we ever fully understand all the causes. Lets hope we dont ever go through anot involved and there was minimal growing season like we experienced this past summer. impact on potato inventory. As everyone waits for spring to arrive in the coming months, the processing industry across North America is heavily involvedANDRE SOLYMOSIwith working towards a contract settlement for the 2022-23 crop. Over the next few months, its everyones hope an agreement can be made thats mutually acceptable to both parties. The biggestSouth of us in Washington is Mount Baker and the same uncertainty is the drastic increase in all costs involved withevents happened there and its rivers could not handle the flow. growing and processing the crop that everyone enjoys eating. Breaking its dikes, the water flowed north into the old Lake Sumas area. The Sumas Prairie is productive farmland and the area flooded up to ten feet in places. Thousands of acres of farmland were impacted. We are fortunate most of the potato storages and packing sheds were not involved and there was minimal impact on potato inventory. B.C. is now open for business again and potatoes will be planting from March, irrigating in May, and digging earlies in June.60SPUDSMART.COM Winter 2022'