My first harvest year with the Potatoes in Canada team was one of the worst for Prince Edward Island. In the fall – or should I say early winter – of 2018, cold weather crept up quickly on P.E.I. potatoes that were still trying to grow from an unusually dry summer. Approximately 7,000 acres of potatoes were abandoned. However, growers persevered with hard work, camaraderie, and for some, a cool “I survived the 2018 PEI potato harvest” t-shirt.
My second harvest year was equally as eventful when a blizzard hit southern Manitoba over the October long weekend. Snow blanketed fields and the season halted to a stop when the ground froze for the winter in late October. In 2019, Manitoba saw an estimated 13,000 acres of potatoes left in the ground, more than double the 5,300 acres left in 2018. It was then that I realized these highs and lows represent business as usual for the potato industry.
My third harvest year was overshadowed by a global pandemic that shook up the planting season. You can read more about how growers fared in 2020 on page 4. It’s important to document these moments in our industry’s history for several reasons: to build community around a shared experience and to reflect so we can learn for next time. For those of us, like myself, who did not grow up in this industry, the wisdom held by growers with countless harvests behind them is invaluable. During times when there are the highest highs and the lowest lows, those with the hindsight from years past can help put situations into perspective.
This will be my last harvest year, but I will continue to follow the potato industry from afar. Thank you to the growers, industry members, and the Potatoes in Canada team for the warm welcome, patience to help, and the much-appreciated rides during Brandon’s frigid winters.
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