While not all provinces publish potato-specific progress reports, the following fall harvest updates have been made available:
Alberta potato harvest behind
According to the Alberta crop report for the two-week period ending Sept. 20, potatoes are the only crop “significantly behind” in terms of harvest progress.
In total, 29.8 per cent of potatoes in the province have been harvested. While they have been 100 per cent harvested in the northeast region, they are only 27.9 per cent harvested in the south, 20 per cent harvested in the central region and 61.2 per cent harvested in the northwest region.
According to the Alberta Potato Growers, this week (Sept. 26 to 30) “will be the last big push” for growers in the northern Alberta seed region to get potatoes into the shed.
Manitoba progress varies
Throughout the planting, growing and harvesting season, Manitoba has struggled intermittently with excess precipitation. For the week ending Sept. 19, after almost two weeks of no rain, many regions received significant rainfall. The week’s rainfall ranged generally from 11.5 to 72.6 mm in various potato areas according to the latest report by Manitoba Agriculture plant pathologist Vikram Bisht. However, so far, the cumulative rainfall at many more sites is now closer to 100 per cent normal, while some sites are still at more than 140 per cent of the 30-year normal.
Bisht estimates that harvest ranges from less than five per cent complete to 75 per cent complete across the province. He says harvest “could be” at around 35 per cent across the province.
Ontario harvest advances
According to the latest update from the Ontario Potato Board’s Eugenia Banks, Ontario’s potato harvest has past the midway point. According to Mark VanOostrum, supply manager at WD Potato, about 50 per cent of the processing crop has been dug. Kevin Brubacher, manager at the Ontario Potato Board, indicated that approximately 75 per cent of the province’s fresh-market crop has been dug. Quality is considered excellent for both chipping and fresh-market potatoes.
Banks described the province’s harvesting as “stop and start.” While warm days and rain have been obstacles for digging, Banks added, “It looks like now, with the arrival of fall, warm days will not be an issue.”
She also noted that when digging one of the variety trials, she found a new red variety, never grown in Ontario, “with second growth of all sorts.” “This variety will never have a chance to be adopted by Ontario growers. On-farm trials are the best tool to detect such problems before new varieties are planted on a commercial scale.” She also found a white mold lookalike growing on dead vines, which turned out to be Botrytis gray mold. The tubers were not affected.
P.E.I. activities affected by Fiona
Fiona, the post-tropical storm with hurricane-strength winds, damaged many farming operations, including livestock and potato farms, in Prince Edward Island. One farmer noted that potato growers are “ready to start harvesting potatoes,” placing a strain on farm owners as they attempt to juggle cleanup efforts with harvest activities.
This planting season, potato farmers planted 385,128 acres (155 856 hectares) of potatoes in 2022, according to StatsCan. That’s up 0.1 per cent from 2021. P.E.I. led the charge with the largest seeded area at 80,500 acres, followed by Manitoba (79,500) and Alberta (72,300).
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