Brian Beaton, potato specialist for the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture estimated Monday (Oct. 29) that at least 95 per cent of the Island’s main cash crop is now out of the ground.
Of the spuds still in the ground, Beaton said some of them are in wet spots that growers will probably leave behind rather than harvest and risk breakdown in the piles.
The yield, Beaton said, “is better that we’d thought for the late varieties.”
He said they benefitted from the September rainfall. The early varieties suffered because of the dry July and August growing period. They didn’t size up like they normally would so the yield is off, he said
The only slowdown to the harvesting last week was two mornings of heavy frost, Beaton said.
“A lot of fellows on the weekend were able to wrap things up,” he reported.
Greg Donald, manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, estimated thee harvest is about 99 per cent Island-wide.
Donald said the yield would end up close to average west of Summerside, where a little more moisture fell during the dry period. That same region actually got less rainfall than the rest of the province when the storm clouds opened in September and October, he noted. Yield is less further east.
Overall, Donald said the yield is turning out better than what most growers were expecting partway through the growing season.
Donald recalled an east-west trip he made this fall when tractors were being towed through fields down east and growers up west were enjoying a good day of harvesting.
“It can’t go without saying that there were a lot of variables across the Island this year,” he commented.
There were 89,500 acres of potatoes grown in P.E.I. this year, up 3,500 acres from the year before.
Although the official StatsCan numbers won’t be available until Nov. 16, Donald suggested the supply of potatoes form Ontario east will be on par with last year.
He is expecting a higher supply in the states, though, especially in Idaho where the acreage increased by about 25,000 acres.
Countering that increase, Donald noted, is a poorer than normal European crop which could potentially create opportunity for more Canadian spuds into the Caribbean market.