News September 2019

Rains keep Manitoba potato growers on edge; processors forced to import raw product

Manitoba potato growers are hoping the 2019 harvest isn’t a repeat of 2018. Harvest has been delayed in many areas after 50 to 125 millimetres of rain has fallen since Sept. 20.

Ideally, growers like to finish digging potatoes by the first week of October. That’s unlikely to happen this year because more rain is forecast for the final days of September.

“Since the weekend rain (Sept. 20-22), it’s been quite a challenge for growers,” said Dan Sawatzky, Keystone Potato Producers Association general manager. Sawatzky estimated that 40 percent of Manitoba’s potato crop was out of the ground as of Sept. 26.

The unharvested crop caused a potato shortfall in Manitoba. French fry processing plants, operated by Simplot and McCain Foods, were forced to bring in potatoes from Alberta and Idaho to keep plants running at full capacity.

Simplot contracted more production of processing potatoes in Manitoba this spring and the crop was looking promising, before the September rains hit.

“It (is) actually a strong crop. If we could get them up, we would have a good year,” Sawatzky said. “There is a good yield out there.”

Read the full report in The Western Producer here