Potato harvest is in the final stages across the country, reports Kevin MacIsaac, general manager, United Potato Growers of Canada. Most provinces, except British Columbia, have enjoyed excellent harvest conditions. Overall, yields have been below average in the west, above average in central Canada and exceptional in eastern Canada.
Prince Edward Island. Growers have about 85 per cent of their crop harvested. After two years of disappointing yields, 2021 will be exceptional in excess of 340 cwt./acre compared to last year’s 250 cwt./acre. One would need to go back to 2006 to find a similar production level for the province.
New Brunswick.Yields and quality have been outstanding, with some growers reporting their best on record with yields estimated at 350 cwt/acre compared to last year’s drought-ravaged production of 237 cwt/acre. French fry processors have already moved loads out of province to the west where supplies are deficient.
Quebec.Yields are above last year’s 293 cwt./acre, likely in the 300-310 cwt/acre range for most regions. Quality is also very nice, and the size profile ended up better than earlier anticipated. Any extra supply of processing potatoes should get picked up by local processors. Demand on the fresh side has increased since school opened,and chain stores have done a good job of promoting potatoes over the last five to six weeks.
Ontario. It is unusual that there has been no frost or cold temperatures yet in the province, so this has allowed good processing, colour and good quality for fresh, out-of-field markets. Above average yields and nice size profiles are common.
Manitoba. Harvest conditions have been excellent with no frost or cold temperatures for growers of processing potatoes. Yields are variable depending on the growing region and availability of water. Summer heat has affected quality such as smaller sizes, lower gravity and sugar ends.
Table growers are now eager to make up the shortfall in yield with improved prices.
Saskatchewan. Seed harvest was completed in the province by October 16th. Harvest conditions started out hot and dry,using irrigation water to soften clods. Conditions at the end became cooler as temperatures dipped to freezing at night. Crop yields are on par with a three-year average of 250 cwt./acre with some growers reporting an additional 15 per cent above that.
Quality exceeds previous years with some seed surplus on certain varieties above contract.
Alberta. Harvest for most growers was completed by October 12th with excellent digging conditions throughout the operation and no unharvested acres this season. Excessive heat reduced yields by 10-15 per cent, with process growers particularly hard hit. Quality is all over the map, but the usual heat stress related issues are expected to be prevalent.
The resulting supply is one that is short of what industry needs and would like to see for the upcoming months. Yields are also off in the northern seed growing region, however size profile and quality are very nice.
British Columbia: Harvest for BC growers is complete. Due to heat, yields are below last year’s 332 cwt./acre but similar to the 2019 crop. Growers without irrigation suffered larger reductions in their crop. The heat also created a slightly smaller size profile.
Source: United Potato Growers of Canada October 20, 2021