P.E.I. continues to reduce its potato acreage, but remains the largest producer of spuds in the country, according to Statistics Canada's census of agriculture, released this week.

Island farmers planted 33,721 hectares in 2016, down from 35,030 in 2011, but that was still close to a quarter of all the potato land in Canada. That number has dropped off in recent decades. Until 2005, the province was planting more than 40,000 hectares a year.

The second biggest grower was Manitoba, at 27,386 hectares.

Farm worker

Dairy cattle are producing more milk per cow. (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

While the number of hectares grown was down just 3.7 per cent, the number of farms reporting was down significantly. In 2011, 300 farms reported potato fields and in 2016 that was down to 247.

That means the average potato farm is getting a lot bigger. In 2011 the average P.E.I. potato farmer put in 117 hectares. In 2016 that was up to 137 hectares.

Cattle farming shows mixed results

Dairy cattle showed some of the more interesting results, with fewer farmers owning few cows, but those cows producing more milk.

Dairy farming on P.E.I.
Dairy farmers Cows Milk Production
2011 189 13,133 100.3M litres
2016 162 12,805 110.5M litres

The increase in milk production is credited to improved animal nutrition, genetics, and production practices.

The number of beef cattle was down 11.1 per cent.

Fruit crop increasing

While still no contender for potatoes, fruit is becoming a bigger piece of Island agriculture, in particular, blueberries.

Hectares of fruit, berries and nuts were up 12 per cent between the two censuses, 5,823 hectares. The huge majority of that, 96.5 per cent of it, was blueberries.


Blueberries make up 96.5% of the Island's fruit, berry and nut acreage. (CBC)

Apples also saw a significant increase, from 51 to 62 hectares.

Overall, the number of farms on the Island fell 9.5 per cent, to 1,353.