Growers look forward to strong demand

11/03/2011 03:20:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Lower acreage, possibly modest yields in some areas and growing problems in nearby regions should spell strong demand for Prince Edward Island potatoes this season.

Brian Beaton, potato coordinator for the Charlottetown-based Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture, said 2011-12 should see brisk movement of PEI potatoes.

“Guys are encouraged that whatever’s not on contract will be bought, no problem,” he said.

“They’re confident they can get red of this crop.”

The possibility of slightly lower yields, thanks to a long dry spell in late August and September that prevented russet burbanks from sizing, combined with the growing woes elsewhere in Canada, should spell strong demand, said Greg Donald, general manager of the Charlottetown-based Prince Edward Island Potato Board.

Linkletter Farms Ltd., Summerside, Prince Edward Island, is still heavily tilted toward the fresh market, but the company did shift some acreage toward processing and away from fresh in 2011, said Gary Linkletter, president and co-owner.

Those cuts, in combination with growing problems elsewhere in Canada and in the American Northeast, should spell strong demand in 2011-12, Linkletter said.

“Ontario is down, New Brunswick is down 20% and Maine has had issues,” he said.

“We anticipate pretty strong demand.”

Stronger demand won’t likely be limited to russets in 2011, Linkletter said. An old PEI standby is making a bit of a comeback this year.

“The demand for reds we’re seeing is the best in years, and the price reflects it,” he said.

“It’s nice to see — they used to be our bread and butter.”



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