BC potato yields were decent despite a late start for most growers, but lower production may have processors and producers scrambling for supplies next year.
‚ÄúNormally they would be done planting by sort of mid-May and [this year] they were still trying to get potatoes in the ground in June,‚ÄĚ says United Potato Growers of Canada general manager Victoria Stamper.
A cool, damp spring contributed to a 1,300-acre decrease in BC‚Äôs planted acreage this year, she says.
Conditions turned more favourable in June and July, however, with next to no precipitation for the last three months of the growing season, but high temperatures throughout August and September sent spuds into self-protection mode and stopped some varieties in their tracks.
‚ÄúYou don’t get that same bulking up because the plants are sort of trying to protect themselves, so they’re not putting the same energy into that bulking up and sizing up that they would normally do, so the potatoes end up with a smaller size profile than we might normally see in a regular season,‚ÄĚ she says.
Fortunately, warm dry weather allowed growers to delay harvest into October. Most of the crop was ultimately harvested. Yields average 320 hundredweight (cwt) per acre, marginally down from 325 cwt last year.
‚ÄúConsidering the start that they had, I think they were okay with the crop that they got,‚ÄĚ Stamper says. ‚ÄúI think it was more a ‚ÄėWow, okay, we got off more than we thought considering where we started from.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
The result is a decent supply of fresh potatoes but stocks of processing and seed potatoes are tight across Canada.
‚ÄúThe fresh or table sector [supply] ‚Ä¶ is good,‚ÄĚ Stamper says. ‚ÄúI would say overall that seed [supply] is fairly tight as well. So, we’re going to see how the table [sector] plays out because when the processing sector is tight, sometimes they’ll dip into the table or fresh sector. … We’re going to keep an eye on the holdings each month to see how that goes.‚ÄĚ
According to Statistics Canada, BC growers harvested 1.6 million cwt of potatoes, yielding 23.1% lower production than last year.
In total, Canada saw a 0.8% increase in production this year reported at just shy of 123 million cwt.