Potato harvest is in the final stages across Canada, reports Victoria Stamper, General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) in the final Crop Update for the season.
Most provinces have reportedly enjoyed excellent harvest conditions without the high temperatures experienced in early September nor the wet conditions of early spring. Yields have been variable across the country, and even between regions within provinces, with overall production estimated to be slightly lower than 2021.
UPGC offers the following update as the last spuds roll into storage for this season:
Prince Edward Island:
PEI growers have more than 90% of their crop harvested with many finishing up this week and many more will wrap up over the next few days. Despite Fiona causing delays starting storage harvest, excellent weather since the storm has enabled growers to make up time and harvest looks like (weather permitting next week) it will be completed on time (some even earlier than normal).
Although most growers saw a better than average crop last year, when all is said and done with this year’s harvest PEI expects a yield close to last year, quality is excellent.
The conditions for harvest have been very good overall, although moisture level differences between the western and eastern parts of the island have caused some variability in the crops. With planted acreage for PEI down just over 5,000 acres we estimate production to be lower than last year by 5-10%, however about 5% above the 5 year average.
Harvest in New Brunswick is winding down and yields have been reported as down from last year, but overall a decent crop. Harvest conditions have generally been good and without very cold temperatures. Since there is not the bumper crop of last year, and there has been some low gravity issues reported forecasting processors to increase the quantity required, it is unlikely we will see movement of potatoes west as we did last year. Similar to PEI, production is estimated to be lower than last year but still close to an 8% increase in production over the 5 year average.
The fresh potato harvest in Quebec is wrapping up, with some recent delays due to very cold temperatures in the evenings and mornings shortening the actual time in the field. Overall growers seem happy with the crop, especially after such a cold and wet spring for planting, and are reporting good quality, however growers are seeing only average yields and a bit smaller size profile. Quebec has seen good demand on the fresh side since Labour Day and pricing is holding well. Estimated production is slightly under last year’s number but well above the 5 year average.
Most potatoes in Ontario are now under storage and the crop is looking good overall. There were differences reported regionally in yields, with some disappointed and others with average to even above average, which perhaps may be attributed to a very dry growing season for the province and not all farms with irrigation. High temperatures through August and into September did finally break for harvesting and growers should not be faced with some of the issues encountered last year with warm potatoes going into storage. With acreage down from last year and variable reports on yields, we are estimating production in Ontario to be down just over 9% from last year, but still on track with the 5 year average due to a large harvest last year.
Harvest in Manitoba has now been completed for the most part and reports are positive. Conditions for harvest were very good and most potatoes are now under storage. Quality of this crop is good as with most provinces, and yields are being described as average to even some slightly above average, a welcome result after the last two years. Shipping should begin in earnest in the next 7-10 days and many are gearing up for demand expected for American Thanksgiving in November. We expect production for the province to be up this year around 6%, in line with the increase in planted acres and despite the cold wet spring that delayed planting up to 3 weeks in some areas.
The harvest in Saskatchewan is now complete for the most part with the weather cooperating very well for the growers. Quality has been reported as excellent with the province experiencing good growing conditions all season.
Harvest for most growers has been completed for over a week now, with favourable weather conditions overall while getting the crop out of the ground. A hail storm back in July as well as high temperatures through August have resulted in early reports of disappointing yields in the province. Quality is very good but size profile is variable, many reporting smaller than average. The resulting supply is one that may be short of what the processors need and would like to see for the upcoming months. Despite these reports, with the increase in planted acreage this season, and the quantity of potatoes harvested, we still do estimate production in Alberta to be up possibly 5% overall compared to last year.
Harvest for BC growers is almost complete, wrapping up this week. The province has had almost no rain for the last 3 months, which when combined with the high temperatures throughout August and into early September was worrisome for many growers. However, since mid-September the temperatures have dropped nicely and conditions for harvest have been great. Due to several factors, including an extremely late planting, high temperatures and little to no precipitation through August, yields are reported as lighter this year with a smaller size profile overall.
However, reports are that the province will get the whole crop off so the quantity of potatoes going into storage should be better than originally expected early in the season. With this harvest report combined with planted acreage down from last year, we estimate production for BC to be down around 8% over 2021 numbers.
In summary, the 2022 growing season has provided a potato crop that is variable across the country, and even regionally within provinces. Overall production is estimated to be slightly lower than 2021, which is not unexpected when we take into consideration Canadian acreage remained almost flat and yields in 2021 provided a “bumper crop” in most of Eastern Canada which is not the case this year.
Please note that these are simply projections based on history and the most recent reports on harvest from our growers, however we will not have more precise numbers until a few more weeks once all have had the chance to assess their crops.