Alberta and Manitoba lead the country in potato acreage increases in 2021
By Jean-Paul McDonald
Statistics Canada has released an estimate of potato acreage in Canada in 2021, based on their survey completed by Canadian potato growers. The stats show the country saw an increase of 5.3 per cent in total potato acreage as compared to 2020, with Alberta and Manitoba leading the growth.
In Alberta, potato growers planted an additional 7,823 acres (67,500 total potato acres), which is a 13.1 per cent increase from 2020. Manitoba farmers also put more tubers in the ground in 2021, with 7,200 addition acres (78,000 total potato acres) planted in 2021 vs. 2020 – a 10.1 per cent increase.
Total potato acreage in Canada is currently estimated to be 378,624 acres. 2021 is rebounding in acres planted over the previous year, although 2020 potato acreage was lower than 2019 plantings, largely due to the market uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada’s peak potato acreage occurred back in 2003, with 457,500 acres planted.
Provinces that saw the biggest increases in year-over-year potato acreage also have large potato processing industries. Alberta and Manitoba, for example, have both undergone expansions in their potato processing industries over the last 2-3 years, driven by increasing demand for French fries and other frozen potato products.
New Brunswick growers planted an additional 4,460 acres (53,000 total potato acres) of potato this year over last year, a 9.2 per cent increase – making it the third largest provincial increase in 2021. New Brunswick also welcomed a new $80 million McCain Foods processing plant in 2021 as well.
Ontario saw a 5 per cent lift in potato acres planted in 2021 – an increase that was mostly driven by an increased demand for potato chips, not French fries or other frozen potato products.
Prince Edward Island still leads all other provinces in potato acreage, with 84,500 acres planted.
But not all Canadian provinces experienced growth in potato acreage in 2021, with the coastal provinces of Newfoundland (-7.7%), Nova Scotia (8.3%), and British Columbia (-7.7%) all decreasing in acres planted as compared to 2020.