Canada’s potato crop struggles with dry summer conditions

As with many other agricultural sectors, potato producers are battling the weather during this growing season.

Kevin MacIsaac of the United Potato Growers of Canada says a dry August in British Columbia, parts of Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have put tuber development, set and size behind in many of those provinces due to the lack of moisture. However, irrigation in Quebec and Manitoba has helped offset growth delays.

In all regions, some well-timed rain at the end of August should help the potato development catch-up.

"Tuber development, set and size are good for this time of year, slightly behind, but catching up," MacIsaac says of the New Brunswick crop.

Disease watch

In Ontario, early chipping potato harvest began Aug. 1 with average yields and slightly higher solids. An aggressive form of scab is showing up on the tubers, MacIsaac says, and early fresh harvest in southern Ontario is underway and going well with strong demand for white, red and yellow potatoes.

The Manitoba processing crop experienced plant growth and the prospect of a uniform crop is good. Harvesting started in early August with a profile that included a high percentage of undersize, prior to shutting down for transition into the new season. Manitoba potato harvest for the McCain plant in Portage la Prairie began in mid-August and good quality and average yield is expected.

Rain, however, is still needed for a good finish to the tablestock crop, MacIsaac says.

“Without it, the crop will be below average. Top killing has started for storage so in some cases the crop is locked in,” MacIsaac says."

The seed potato crop in northern Alberta received excellent to excessive moisture during the growing season and needs some heat, MacIsaac says. 

Bottom line

Canada’s potato crop is generally on target for an average to slightly below average production year.

Article by: Andy Walker