Weather patterns have continued to influence the outlook for the Canadian potato crop says Kevin MacIsaac, general manager, United Potato Growers of Canada. Eastern Canada, particularly Prince Edward Island, has received record amounts of rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. The province of Manitoba has also received some rainfall over the past two weeks. High temperatures have broken in Alberta, but the province still remains dry. The heat has also come down in Québec in the first week of September.
Growers are hoping that any potential early frosts hold off and allow the crop to finish up. Most areas will not see harvest reach full capacity until the third week of September 2021.
Here is how the crop looks at this time:
Prince Edward Island:
September 2 brought the remnants of Hurricane Ida to Prince Edward Island bringing record-setting daily accumulations of rain with it. Potato fields received anywhere from 80mm to 150mm during a 24-hour period. Just one day previous, the crop was beginning to look dry in some areas that had not received significant amounts of rainfall during the month of August.
The potato belt received some rain recently which should carry much of the crop into maturity as vines are beginning to lie down and lighten in colour.
Early harvest on chipstock has been very promising with reported yields well above average. The chip contract with Old Dutch was finally settled with a two-year contract providing increases in both the 2021 and 2022 crop. Early harvest of other varieties such as Shepody and Caribou Russet have produced high yields. French fry companies continue to show interest in purchasing open potatoes to meet their needs in other regions due to the stresses of hot, dry, weather conditions.
The excessive summer heat will have effects on size. Overall, yields will be higher than a year ago, although growers are looking at a smaller size profile. There are lots of 100 count sizes but cartons requiring bigger sizes such as 60 counts will be more limited.
Both the French fry processor and chip company have both settled contracts with increases – some for 2021 and some for2022.
Growers are anticipating a good crop. Some irrigation systems were shut off earlier this year with natural rainfall being more abundant throughout the season. Quality looks very good, on most varieties. Growers are looking forward to the cooler temperatures which will allow safe storage for that part of the harvest.
Fresh potato growing areas contain many non- irrigated acreages and have been dry throughout the season. In recent weeks, the Winkler area has received four inches of rain but unfortunately, it was too late for much of the table crop and current yield predictions are for two-thirds of normal. There has been very little shipping happening, although some yellows from irrigated ground have been marketed with good yields reported.
Processing potatoes, particularly russets, have struggled to keep up with the hot dry season. Some early out of field harvest has been done, mostly on Rangers. Growers would prefer to wait a little longer to see if they can achieve a better yield per acre in the out of field deliveries. Long season varieties such as Russet Burbank have been particularly stressed from the heat of the season.
Although it has been a hot dry season, the crop generally looks good due to a good irrigation source with access to lots of water for the crop throughout the season. A lot of the seed crop has been top killed, and harvest is ready to get underway.
Alberta’s potato crop has suffered with heat issues since late June, early July. From a distance, the fields look great with tall green vines, however consistent temperatures of 103 degrees before row closure, dropped the first set, greatly affecting yields.
Early harvested Rangers have been disappointing, in the 10-11 tons/acre range. Current ten-foot strips in Russet Burbanks point to yields of 13-15 tons/acre so the crop will need another three weeks to put some weight on. Processing demand is strong, and all three fry plants of McCain, Lamb-Weston, and Cavendish Farms are running new crop. Chip yields seem to be satisfactory for those growers, as well as for those producing baby creamers for the fresh market.
The seed crop is a bit variable depending on which areas got rain in that growing region. The Lacombe area seems to be one of the better areas, having received more moisture than others.
All growers are anxious for their crop to finish up bulking before the main harvest begins on September 20.
The growing season has been hot, particularly in the month of July. The net effect seems to be a good crop, but one which does not have a lot of large size potatoes. Recent variety trial field days show many plants with a higher set, but a smaller size profile. About three quarters of the fields are topped, and temperatures are cooling down from 20°C in the daytime to 9°C degrees at nighttime, making for good harvesting and storage temperatures. Many growers require four weeks for skin set on red and yellow varieties, so main harvest should be rolling by September 20.
For the full report, link here: https://bit.ly/2X4Rh7l
Source: United Potato Growers of Canada September 7, 2021