Millions stuck in Manitoba potato fields

Manitoba is taking another hard hit on its potato industry, after being stormed by rain and then snow. The calendar has turned to November and growers have given up hope in harvesting.  


“Ten grower surveys in Manitoba show 3,500 acres left in the field but the prediction is that up to 15,000 acres could be stranded,” Kevin MacIsaac, general manager, United Potato Growers of Canada told The Grower. “This is very devastating, shorting a processing market that is expanding.”


The $460 million expansion of J.R. Simplot’s plant in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba is expected to come on stream in January 2020. The question is where its supply will originate. Alberta and Idaho have also experienced tough harvesting conditions. 


The big story in the U.S. is Idaho. With temperatures dipping to -8°C in mid-October, the harvest was cut short in the state. MacIsaac cites losses of 12,000 fresh potato acres, 12,000 processing potato acres and 2,400 seed potato acres. 


“Idaho is such a big player that there will be short supplies. Prices are moving up for fresh potatoes. And seed potatoes will be tight for 2020.”


“Washington state had an average crop but not super,” says MacIsaac. “Yields were at a five-year average. Plants in the Columbia Basin will need every potato they can get.”  


If there’s a positive note, it’s found in Alberta where seed potato growers got their crop harvested.  Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick also fared well in storing seed.  



Source:  Kevin MacIsaac, United Potato Growers of Canada, November 4, 2019  

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Publish date: 
Monday, November 4, 2019

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