Heat and Drought Trouble Canadian Growers
The United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) Board recently released an overview of the crop-growing conditions and market insights from the major potato-producing provinces of Canada.
Prince Edward Island:
The crop is ahead of same time last year due to earlier planting and excellent growth. Crop stage is at row closure with many fields in blossom. The crop is also at the tuber initiation stage in many fields, so the dry, hot conditions are of concern at this very critical stage. A significant rainfall was received two weeks ago breaking the drought however more is needed.
Growing conditions have been good in NB after a hot and dry month of June. Timely rains have kept the crop growing but more moisture is needed now.
Old crop is cleaning up with limited supply left on the fresh side. Fry plants have been busy with the resumption of demand. The dehydration plant has been extremely busy in recent months cleaning up excess supplies originally destined for processing, seed, and table markets.
The crop looks good because of recent rainfall, which helped avert a critical moisture situation, but the crop still needs more moisture. In the meantime, those that can, are busy irrigating. Early Envols are looking good as more of that acreage tends to be irrigated than with the traditional Superior variety. Plant foliage looks very healthy and growers are continually checking to see how progress is coming along under the hill.
The fresh market has been a little slower as packers have been dealing with a larger supply of old crop russets than originally thought. This is also traditionally a slower time in the market as in addition to reluctance of cooking in hot weather; the entire province of Quebec begins a two-week vacation period for construction workers.
New crop is coming on now with some growers ready to go for the last week but were waiting to prevent too much disruption as the market transitions from old to new crop.
The weather has been hot and dry, but fields have also received timely rains to keep the crop growing. It is still extremely dry in southern Ontario where the early crop will begin harvest for both chips and tablestock this week. Crop development has been running about a week behind in this area. Growers are watching their crop closely as the hotter temperatures favor development of heat runners.
Old crop is winding down on the fresh side and chip supplies in storage were used up quicker than anticipated.
The crop is very dry in the southern part of the province, almost running on the verge of drought. Top growth is good; however, growers are closely watching development under the hills. Crop development has been running 7-10 days behind normal. Some growers feel the top has been taken off their yield potential with the hot dry conditions.
The old crop is running short with only about a week of shipping left, resulting in very solid prices for fresh potatoes.
Most of the crop is running a week behind average. The Carberry and Treharne areas have had decent rains, with dryer conditions occurring in the McGregor and Winkler areas. The extreme heat has been a bigger issue for many areas creating heat runners and other stress related reactions. Some varieties such as Umatilla’s seem to be hit particularly hard.
Old crop is cleaning up quicker than expected with not as much inventory as was expected back on April 1. Shrink may have been a factor in the reduction. Some crop will be brought in from Alberta and fry plants expect to start up by mid-August.
Like other areas, heat has been a challenge on the potato crop, however it is progressing along.
Growing conditions have certainly varied from the northern to southern regions of the province. The very northern part of the province has seen periods of heavy rainfall and cool temperatures creating drown outs in some fields. The central area has more moderate growing conditions while the southern area has received nice rains reducing the need for irrigation levels but there’s still need for some heat also. Two different hailstorms have set the crop back, however recovery is good from the initial storm, but damage from the second will require the full season to grow out.
Growers are intensely managing late blight preventative programs based on spore trap results.
Some old crop has been shipped into Manitoba to supply the JR Simplot factory while the balance of old crop for processing should finish up in the coming week, allowing plants to go down for 2-3 weeks. Processors would like to start new crop on August 12th but given the later growing season they will likely start around August 25th. Chipstock should start next week for both processors.
The potato crop in BC is experiencing very good growing weather with timely rains and cool temperatures. Foliage is excellent with vines exceeding normal heights on certain varieties.
Early varieties are still being dug but harvest is now moving into skin set red and yellow potatoes. Russets should be ready in about two weeks.