Potato Harvest in Western New Brunswick

Herb Culberson Farms Ltd. will harvest about 78,000 barrels of potatoes this year.

Herb Culberson Farms Ltd. will harvest about 78,000 barrels of potatoes this year.

October 01, 2021

In New Brunswick’s potato belt, the spud is king, yielding two billion pounds of product for a USD 1.5 billion industry during the annual fall harvest. This year’s potato crop is bigger and better than 2020, thanks to warm weather and good rain over the summer growing season.

Tyler Culberson says the family operation in Jacksonville expects to bring in 375 acres of potatoes (about 78,000 barrels) by the time the harvest is complete at the end of October.
 

Tyler Culberson and his family operate Herb Culberson Farms Ltd. in Jacksonville

Tyler Culberson and his family operate Herb Culberson Farms Ltd. in Jacksonville

Tyler Culberson:
 
"Compared to last year, it’s like night and day. We’re going to have one of the best crops in years if the conditions stay right for getting it out of the ground. Wet weather is not good for the dig."
Culberson said most of their potatoes will head to McCains Foods in Florenceville, the world’s largest manufacturer of potato products. Potatoes are the main crop grown in the province. New Brunswick produces 52,000 acres of potatoes with 56 percent of the harvest destined for processing, 25 percent to the fresh market, and 19 percent for seed. The potato belt in the province extends from Woodstock to Saint Quentin.

Matt Hemphill, executive director for Potatoes New Brunswick:
 
"I'm cautiously optimistic about the 2021 potato harvest. On a five-year average, it looks like an above-average crop, but the final results will depend on Mother Nature. Compared to last year, we’re having a phenomenal year, but we don’t celebrate until it’s out of the ground and into storage."
Hemphill said rainy weather during the harvest can ruin the potato crop, causing it to rot. Heavy rain on September 27 left water lying on the ground in some potato fields, a worrisome sign for farmers should the wet weather continue.

Matt Hemphill:
 
"The rain can stop so we can get the potatoes out of the ground."
About 4,000 New Brunswickers participate in the harvest each year, along with 100-125 temporary foreign workers. There are 135 potato growers in the valley. Hemphill explained that if Mother Nature cooperates and supply and demand are in balance, it should be business as usual for farmers.

Nick Brown, a spokesperson for the provincial Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries, agreed the 2021 potato harvest is looking promising for farmers. New Brunswick had ideal temperatures and precipitation during this year’s growing season, and the crop is about seven to 10 days ahead of normal.

Nick Brown:
 
"Given the excellent growing conditions, increased acreage planted, and low yields last year from moisture stress, we expect an increase from last year’s harvest of more than 40 percent. his could be the largest crop produced since 2007."
Growers started harvesting early table potatoes during the third week of July and early processing varieties at the end of August. Brown said that New Brunswick processors should have plenty of supply and good quality potatoes with favorable harvesting and storage conditions this year.
The US Eastern Seaboard is a key export market for New Brunswick potatoes and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. McCain Foods and Cavendish Farms in Prince Edward Island are the province's biggest customers for potato processing.

In 2020, drought conditions during the growing season resulted in a 25-50 percent yield reduction for New Brunswick farmers and millions in lost revenue for the potato industry. During the worst of the pandemic, demand for potato products decreased due to restaurant and store closures.
 

Potato Harvest 2021 here in New Brunswick

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