Canadian Potato Production Up by 2.4% in 2019
Statistics Canada has estimated that the Canadian potato production in 2019 will be up 2.4% or 2,472,000 hundred weight above the 5-year average in Canada.
With demand growing for potato products, growers in the spring of 2019 planted an additional 3.7% or 13,000 acres to meet these expansion requirements. Unfortunately, poor harvest conditions, particularly in Western Canada, have resulted in 20,296 acres being abandoned in farmers’ fields. This is after, what was considered a precedent in 2018, when an early onset of winter resulted in 18,049 acres being left in the ground across the country from PEI to BC.
The net increase in production, therefore, is much less than what the industry actually desired. Canadian yields of 312 hundred weight per acre on the area that was harvested are above last year’s 310 cwt. / acre and continue to surpass the 5-year average in Canada. Here are the exact numbers for some of the most important regions.
Prince Edward Island: the country’s largest potato growing province fared better than last year due to improve yields and a better fall for harvesting. There were higher yields in the Western part of the province, however excess rain from Hurricane Dorian, also resulted in some unharvested acres in that area. Stats Canada estimates that PEI left 1,500 acres in the field, a substantial improvement over last year’s abandonment of 6,800 acres. Yields are estimated at 300 cwt./acre, above the 5-year average of 293 cwt./acre. Some of the earlier harvested varieties were lighter than the provincial average. Overall production is estimated at 25,200,000 hundred weight, an increase of 2.5% above the 5-year average.
New Brunswick: The 2019 potato crop appears to have been good in the country’s fourth largest production province. NB growers planted an additional 1,000 acres in the spring to meet processing volume expansions, as the industry shifts to growing less table and seed potatoes in the province. Like most areas, planting was delayed in the spring, but the crop caught up throughout the season. Yields are estimated at 311 cwt./acre, above the 5-year average of 305 cwt./acre. Quality is much improved over the previous year’s results. Officials felt only 100 acres went unharvested this fall, in comparison to 2018 which saw 1,000 acres left out. Overall estimated production is 16,400,00 hundred weight, up from last year and above the 5-year average 14,914,000 hundred weight and increase of 10%.
Manitoba: After coming out of a difficult harvest season in 2018, Manitoba growers were optimistic to be planting a new crop in 2019. Planted acreage increased by9.2% or 5,900 acres to meet some of the needs of the new JR Simplot French fry factory scheduled to open in Portage LaPrairie in January2020. The growing season was a hot, dry one, but growers were able to get enough water on the crop for good canopies. As the crop headed toward maturity, stands looked excellent with the potential to even surpass last year’s record yields. Unfortunately, the rains which could have been used earlier in the season, started coming in copious amounts just as harvest was beginning, waterlogging soils and bogging down equipment. As growers waited for heavier soils to dry out, they were hit by a major blizzard on October 10th. After another delay, growers went back after two weeks and dug what they could but had to give up on October 26 as the ground froze for winter. The resulting abandonment is estimated at 13,000acres. The Canadian industry sympathizes with this extremely tough situation for Manitoba growers who also had to leave 5,300 acres in that province last year. Seed and table producers were able to harvest most of their crop with difficulty, but the processing sector is deeply affected, not only by field losses, but also with the challenges within storages to maintain this inventory. Manitoba’s overall production is estimated at 19,700,000 hundred weight, or 6.9% below the 5-yr. average of 21,154,000 hundred weight. Yields on the harvested acres are estimated at 346cwt./acre, similar to last year but above the 5-yr. average of 336 cwt./acre.
Alberta: In the spring of 2019, Alberta growers planted an additional 10% or 5,600 acres to meet expanding seed markets and also to accommodate the volume increases required by the new Cavendish Farms French Fry plant opening in August 2019 in Lethbridge. The growing season was hot and dry in the southern processing area of the province, in comparison to cool and wet in the northern seed growing area. The processing crop in the southern region was subject to a damaging hail storm on August 6thaffecting approximately 3,500 acres. With a good average crop potential, harvest also became a challenge for Alberta growers as an early season snowstorm moved through the Taber area on September 28th with 30% of the crop still to be harvested. After almost 3 weeks with no harvesting and dipping temperatures, growers went back and dug another 3,000 acres before winter settled in on October 18th. As a result,4,385 acres were left out, comprising 3,200 acres destined for processing and 1,185 for table and seed. Fortunately, most of the seed grown in the northern region got harvested before cool weather set in. Stats Canada estimates Alberta yields at 382 cwt./acre, below the 5-yr. average of 388 cwt./acre, and last year’s record breaking 408cwt./acre. Overall production is estimated at 21,718,000 hundred weight, or 8.8% above the 5-yr average.