Potato producers in Manitoba seem to be getting better with each passing year. That from Carman-area producer Jason Kehler, who grows about 850 acres of the processing variety for Simplot and McCain. 2016 was a record year for many potato growers thanks to cool, wet weather conditions and an early planting season. However, with the large crop, storage has been in issue for many producers. “We had just enough room,” said Kehler. “I ended up having to leave probably about five acres in the field, so we cut it pretty fine. We filled everything up corner to corner, front to back….It’s only a good a crop if you can store it.” He says late blight was also an issue for many producers this season.
Kehler notes the industry has seen its ups and downs over the years. “It fluctuates a little bit with the dollar,” he explained. “In the 90’s, we were losing some acres, things were a little tough, the dollar was a little stronger. Then into the early 2000’s, the dollar backed off a bit and we couldn’t grow enough potatoes. Then obviously five or ten years ago we were losing some again. Now, obviously our dollar has backed off again and so production is up.”
Kehler adds that while the number of acres of potatoes may be up, the number of producers has dropped significantly over the years. 2017 will mark 30 years of potato production for the Carman-area farmer.