Canadian potato harvest update
By United Potato Growers of Canada
Oct. 21, 2016, Canada – As potato harvest wraps up, the United Potato Growers of Canada reports conditions were generally favourable for growers across the country.
Prince Edward Island
Approximately 35 per cent of P.E.I.'s potato crop had been harvested by Thanksgiving. Beautiful weather has made for excellent harvest conditions. Overall quality going into storage to date has been good with the exception of some isolated issues such as scab. Size profile is a bit lower on some of the first crop dug but current projections are for at least an average yield. Demand has been very good and as a result, fresh shipments are ahead of last year at this time. P.E.I. has begun shipping into some markets at an earlier time frame than normal. Prices are much better that this time last year.
Excellent harvesting conditions have put the harvest percentage between 75 and 80 per cent as Oct. 7. Yields have been good with many fields in the northern region running around 375 cwt./acre and 325 to 350 cwt./acre in the southern part of the province. Fresh sheds are running product out of field to help several growers finish up. Growers and sheds seem particularly happy with the yield and quality of the Innovator variety this year, which did not seem to be as susceptible to heat and dry conditions experienced.
Excellent weather had brought the harvest to between 75 and 80 per cent completion as of Oct. 7. Many growers have only a week left, although the Lac St. Jean area will probably need two weeks. Yields are status quo, but certainly down from last year’s record setter. Quality is very good, with perhaps a smaller size profile in some areas. Movement has been very good to date. Pricing is stable and packers have agreed to leave it at current price points for now.
Ontario’s harvest was 85 per cent complete on Oct. 7. The Shelburne area, which is usually the last planted region due to a later spring with cooler soil temperatures, is about 60 per cent harvested. Growers in the province have experienced a 50 per cent yield reduction on dry land crops and a 20 per cent reduction on irrigated fields. Dry weather however does bring good storage conditions with no storage rot, so the quality of both fresh and processing spuds, is excellent. Trials this year showed some of the standard varieties performed better in the heat and drought than some of the newer ones, which exhibited secondary growth, knobs and growth cracks. Shippers also feel, chef size and larger size sku’s should bring more of a premium this year. The Ontario fresh market has been strong without the traditional downward pressure on price experienced this time of year. Virtually all of the chip harvest was in the bin by Thanksgiving.
Manitoba’s harvest was 95 per cent complete on Oct. 7. Harvest conditions were very wet after receiving three inches of rain. Quality going into storage is high with minimal rot. Gravity is high in the processing spuds with a large size profile. Yields have been remarkable, with many processing growers having a surplus over their contracts. Some fields will be disced under, due to lack of storage. Yield records in the province will probably be set this year, despite the drowned out acreage south and east of Winkler. Those growers in the path of that severe weather pattern will have large losses and crop insurance claims this year. Processing of the new crop in the months of September/October is down from 1.7 million hundredweight in 2015 to 1.2 million hundred weight in 2016. Very little open purchasing has been done yet. Fresh pricing continues to be strong with the market driven by the extreme weather and excess moisture in the Red River Valley of North Dakota.
Most of the potato crop had been harvested by Oct. 7. Some areas had seen 10 centimetres of snow in early October, with wind chills of -7 C.
For the most part, harvest conditions were excellent, and a few rain days did not cause any concern. The Central Alberta seed area did have some wet rainy days, which caused harvest to drag on, but it is now complete in that region. Seed quality is excellent – the best in years. Process quality is extremely good. There are some pink rot and soft rot issues that are being dealt with. In terms of yield, seed yield is excellent, early process yields are excellent, storage yields are just average due to a shortage of heat units at critical times in the growing season.
For the most part, B.C.’s crop was harvested by Oct. 7. There are some growers with full storages who will need to market out of field in order to wrap up. Yields and quality have been excellent. British Columbia was able to begin marketing earlier this year, which should be a big help in moving their crop through distribution channels.
Observations on the European crop
The North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) expect production in their five countries (Netherlands, Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Germany) to be down in 2016 by 1.6 per cent compared to 2015, and 2.2 per cent compared to their five-year average. This is due to weather-related issues, even though their planted acreage increased by 4.8 per cent this year. This is a preliminary estimate, as harvest is not yet complete, but this does represent a reduction of 1,000,000 tons. Of particular interest is Belgium, with projected reductions of 12.4 per cent below 2015, and 17.8 per cent below their five-year average.
For more information, contact Kevin MacIsaac at Kevin@unitedpotatocanada.com