Earlier this month Statistics Canada released their first estimate of potato acreage in Canada as a result of data obtained from their survey of potato growers in Canada.
The 2022 potato acreage is estimated at 385,128 acres. This is almost flat compared to 2021, only 242 acres more.
As Victoria Stampfer, General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) says in a crop update report, in 2021 acreage had seen a big increase over 2020, and even the pre-COVID year 2019, predominantly in the major processing provinces, bringing supply back to meet demand increases in the industry that began pre-COVID.
Significant rises in input costs – fertilizer and fuel predominantly – coupled with increased holding levels in some of the Eastern provinces, impacted seeded acreage in 2022.
Largest increase in Quebec
The largest acreage increase in 2022 was reported in Quebec, planting an additional 3,862 acres, representing an 8.2% increase over last year.
However, due to an overabundance of rain combined with cool temperatures throughout the planting season, Quebec has advised that this number may not likely be realized as harvested acres, similar to certain other regions across Canada.
The only other increases in acreage in Canada this year, although not as significant as in 2021, still occurred in the western provinces of Alberta and Manitoba.
Alberta producers planted an additional 3,850 acres or an increase of 5.6%, not quite as high as the additional 7,823 acres in 2021. Manitoba growers planted an additional 1,500 acres or 1.9% above 2021.
Acreage down in Prince Edward Island
The largest decrease in acreage in 2022 was not surprisingly found in Prince Edward Island (PEI), a reduction of 5,500 acres, a drop of 6.4%.
With seed movement to other provinces still blocked by CFIA, and greatly increased production costs, many farmers either moved to other crops where pricing and demand was more certain, or were simply not able, or not willing, to plant in 2022.
There were other decreases more significant in percentage, but not in actual acres, as the PEI decrease, namely a 33.4% drop in Nova Scotia equaling 400 acres; a decrease of only 25 acres in Newfoundland but that was an 8% decline in this region; and BC saw their seeded acres go down by 500 acres equating to a 7.7% drop over 2021.
If they look at the data back to 2016, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have been in a slight but steady decline, but BC has remained fairly steady with their decrease this year more related to heavy rains and cold temperatures during planting.
With the added pressures of steep increases in costs this year and variable weather with climate change, and even generational changeovers, the reductions in these areas with smaller overall acreage may not be surprising, and do not have a large impact on the overall production of potatoes in Canada.
Acreage in Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick all saw slight decreases in overall acreage compared to 2021, but were all still higher or at least equal to 2020 levels during COVID and still well in line with levels going back to 2016.
Acreage levels not unexpected
It is important to note that the acreage levels in the 2022 Canadian Potato Crop are not unexpected due to the current challenges in the industry including the sharp inclines in cost of production and the availability and cost of freight, and are reflected in areas that did have higher holdings from last season’s good crop.
The UPGC relies on this data to provide further statistics on production, harvested acres, holding reports, etc. important to our industry.
The continued diligence of both Statistics Canada to conduct the survey, and the growers who took the time to respond to it, is very much appreciated.
Our next opportunity for revision of these figures will be in December when the Canadian Potato Production Estimates are released by Stats Canada.