North America, Trends, Weather/Climate

Canada’s Manitoba potato growers look for brighter 2021 after three challenging years

Ron Friesen reports for Manitoba Co-operator that beleaguered Manitoba potato growers are hoping for a normal crop this year after three consecutive years of adverse weather, unharvested acres, lower-than-expected yields and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Guarded optimism would be the best way to describe growers’ mood as they prepare for the 2021 crop amid weather and market conditions largely beyond their control.

“You have to be resilient to be a potato grower,” said Dan Sawatzky, general manager of Keystone Potato Producers Association. “You have to be optimistic or you wouldn’t be in the business. But with three (challenging) years back to back, the mood is — what’s the right word — certainly not as optimistic. Maybe cautiously optimistic going into this year. Maybe somewhat subdued as well.”

Sawatzky said Manitoba processors were forced to import potatoes since 2018 to make up for shortfalls. As of this spring, seed potato supplies were “very tight.”

Also this spring, soil conditions in parts of agro-Manitoba were very dry after a winter with limited snowfall and sparse spring run-off. Water levels in surface reservoirs were very low in March, making supplies look “rather bleak” without spring rains, Sawatzky said. On top of everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into potato markets in 2020 after fast-food restaurants were forced to close their eat-in spaces and only drive-through orders were allowed.

Source: Manitoba Co-operator. Read Ron Friesen’s full article here
Photo: Laura Rance | Manitoba Co-operator

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