The harvest is up in Canada's biggest potato growing province, reflecting a trend that happened throughout the country with the notable exception of Manitoba.
"PEI fared better than last year due to improved yields and a better fall for harvesting," said the general manager of United Potato Growers of Canada in a report issued just before Christmas. "There were higher yields in the western part of the province, however excess rain from Hurricane Dorian also resulted in some unharvested acres in that area."
Production was 25,000,000 hundredweight, a significant improvement on the 22,600,000 harvested in 2018 and slightly above the five-year-average of 24,575,000.MacIsaac said in a report issued just before Christmas the Statistics Canada estimates show approximately 1,500 acres left in the field, a substantial improvement over the 6,800 acres abandoned in 2018.
"Yields are estimated at 300 cwt/acre, above the five year average of 293 cwt/acre," he explained. "Some of the earlier harvested varieties were lighter than the provincial average."
Nationally, production was 106,577,000, which represents a 2.4 per cent increase over 2018 and is above the five year average of104,105,000. MacIsaac explained growers planted an additional 3.7 per cent or 13,000 acres in the spring of 2019.
"Unfortunately poor harvest conditions, particularly in western Canada, have resulted in 20,296 acres being abandoned in fields." he said.
Manitoba, which is traditionally the second largest producer, planted an additional 5,900 acres largely to accommodate the new J R Simplot french fry factory. Despite a hot, dry summer, he said there was considerable optimism heading in to harvest.
"Unfortunately the rains which could have been used earlier in the season started coming in copious amounts as harvest was set to begin, water logging soils and bogging down equipment," the general manager explained. "As the growers waited for heavier soils to dry out, they were hit by a blizzard on the October 10 and the ground was frozen by Halloween."
That resulted in Manitoba growers leaving 13,000 acres in the ground-- hot on the heels of the 5,300 acres abandoned in 2018. MacIsaac noted "seed and table producers were able to harvest most of their crop with difficulty but the processing sector is deeply affected."
Production is estimated at 19,700,000 hundredweight or 6.9 per cent below the five year average of 21,154,000. That dropped them to third place in production with Alberta seeing an 8.8 per cent increase in yields to sit at 21,145,000 hundredweight.
The Alberta acreage was up from the five year average of 19,963,000. MacIsaac noted producers in that province had planted an additional 5,600 acres, largely to meet increase demand for a new french fry planted opened by Cavendish Farms in Lethbridge.
"With good average crop potential, harvest also became a challenge for Alberta growers as an early season snowstorm moved through the Taber areas on September 30 with the 30 per cent of the crop still to be harvested," the general manager noted. "After almost three weeks with no harvesting and dipping temperatures, growers went back and dug another 3,000 acres before winter settled in on the October 18."
New Brunswick growers planted an additional 1,000 acres and planting was delayed in the spring but the crop caught up during the season. He said yields are estimated at 311 cwt./acre. just above the five-year average of 305 cwt/acre Estimated production is 16,400,000, up from last year and above the five year average of 14,914,000.
After a delayed plant in Quebec, the crop experienced a hot dry summer. MacIsaac said growers in that province feel their crop turned out very well with yields in at 299 cwt/acre. Overall production is estimated at the12,739,000--an increase of 6.8 per cent from the five year average. He said only 385 acres were left in the ground.
"Ontario growers experienced a break in their planting schedule as rain delayed the finish, with planted acres very similar to onle year ago," he explained. The hot summer temperatures challenged growth of the potato plants but crops were good for summer fresh growers and early processing fields."
Yield is estimated at 200 cwt/acre compared to the five year average of 217. Production is estimated at 6,705,000 hundredweight. which is a decrease of 10.7 per cent from 2018.
After a hot dry summer in Saskatchewan with very little rain, the province received 1-3 inches all at once. He said the moisture provided good growing conditions and yield and quality appeared to be much better than 2018.
"Saskatchewan growers were fortunate to miss all the weather related issues occurring in the provinces on either side of them and were able to harvest most of their crop. Production is estimated to be 1,500,000 hundredweight."
While the spring started out cool in British Columbia, MacIsaac said the season turned out to be an excellent one with yields of 325 cwt/.acre compared to the five year average of 292. Production is estimated a52,145,000 hundredweight, up 14. 6 per cent from the five year average of 1,871,000.