While concerns about increased inventory due to declining consumer demand are top of mind for many growers as they finish up planting the 2020 crop, the general manager of United Potatoes Growers of Canada said most regions of the country are catching a break from Mother Nature.
“Growers always look forward to getting into the field and planting a “new” crop,” Kevin MacIsaac said in a report to the industry issued at the end of May.
“Fortunately for most areas, planting conditions have been very good, allowing growers to get their 2020 crop into the ground in a timely manner.”
He estimated planting was 70 per cent completed in PEI as of May 28, as growers experiences good conditions with no significant rain delays. The former chair of the PEI Potato Board said processing acreage will be down 10% below last year, chip acres will be up slightly, and little change is expected in fresh or seed acres. PEI planted 85,500 acres last year.
“Potatoes from the old crop continue to go to intended markets. There will be significant unused seed as a result of lower processing acres,” he said. “Surplus seed will be diverted to fresh markets, dehy, cattle feed, or waste. Old crop potatoes will likely be processed into September. “
Turning to New Brunswick, he said planting was around 80% complete at the end of May. The soil was cooler earlier but MacIsaac said it has now warmed up and is quite dry. Based on extra seed that has recently became available, there have been some acreage reductions, although the general manager noted it is still uncertain if all growers cut back to their volume reductions. Growers planted 52,900 acres last year.
“Old crop is moving slowly, and excess seed is now adding to the pile. As a result, old crop may not clean up until well into October and there are also some potatoes that may not make it into the table market,” he said. “Orders for more French fries seem to be coming back, as processing plants begin to start ramping up again in reaction to people wanting to go out and eat again and try to return to their consumer buying habits”
Planting is about 75%-80% complete in Quebec with excellent soil and temperature conditions this year,” he said. “There were no delays due to rain and resulting soil conditions are dry. Fresh acres are expected to increase by 1,500 acres and processing acres are expected to decrease by 860 acres (-12%) this year.”
MacIsaac noted much of the seed volume in that province was already sold and delivered before the processing cuts were made. The biggest processor in the province will be able to use all of the remaining old crop volume but will need to run later into the season in order to be able to do it.