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Canada: Manitoba potato producers reflect on difficult harvest

It’s been two years in a row that Manitoba potatoes have been left in the ground during harvest. Manitoba Agriculture is estimating that about 25 per cent of this year’s potato crop is unharvestable.

In an interview with Pembina Valley Online, Keystone Potato Producers Manager Dan Sawatzky explained what happens if farmers can’t meet their contract obligations.

“It is a volume contract, there is ‘Act of God’ in there so if growers come up short it makes it difficult for the processors as well,” he said. “They try to replace some of the volume from outside of the Manitoba growing area and this year unfortunately there isn’t a lot of extra to be had.”

Sawatzky commented further on the possibility of bringing in potatoes from other jurisdictions.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of opportunity for sourcing potatoes in different areas. Some of the other areas have struggles with their crop. Alberta had some hail go through earlier and also had some difficulty finishing their harvest. North Dakota would be the next closest area, they also have conditions similar to ours in that it’s been too wet and they’ve lost a lot of their crop to either rot or drown out or in the end abandoned them because of frost. To move potatoes further is always difficult.”

He noted an increase in contract prices going forward might be difficult to achieve. “We hope that we can see some advancements in some pricing to make up for some of the losses this year but our pricing is contracted. Generally, we look at contracting to bring some stability into the marketplace so we don’t see those swings that you see on an open market. Obviously, with growers in tough situations, we certainly will try to move the pricing if possible.”

The remaining potatoes will have to be dug up in the spring, which will push back seeding as well.

Source: This article was published by Pembina Valley Online here

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