In the 2018-19 crop year, Canada exported about $38 million worth of seed potatoes. Almost all of the seed potatoes went to the United States, with a tiny share going to Uruguay and other nations, Statistics Canada says.
Robert Arnason reports in The Western Producer that those exports are now in jeopardy because COVID-19 has drastically cut into consumption of french fries. Potato growers across North America will plant fewer acres of spuds this spring, which means a severe reduction in sales for seed potato growers.
“One thing we’re not talking about is the… seed growers,” said Terence Hochstein, Potato Growers of Alberta executive director. “They have no place else to go with that seed this spring…. Our seed growers are going to take the brunt of this catastrophe.” Alberta is the major producer of seed potatoes in Canada.
Potato seed growers in Canada will sell a portion of their crop this spring, but the rest could go to waste. “They literally have millions of dollars invested,” Hochstein said.