Price of potatoes expected to go up, says P.E.I. grower

Islanders could be paying more for potatoes and French fries this year.

P.E.I. not the only place in short supply

Ray Keenan estimates almost 3,000 hectares of potatoes were left unharvested on P.E.I. this year. (Submitted by Bryan Maynard)

Islanders could be paying more for potatoes and French fries this year.

Potato growers on P.E.I. aren't the only ones who faced challenges with their crops this year, creating a shortage in supply across the country and as far away as Belgium, says Ray Keenan, an owner of Rollo Bay Holdings.

"I don't know of any place that has any excess of potatoes this year," he said. "It's a world-wide shortage."

And like any commodity, when supply goes down, prices usually go up.

"I think the potato prices will certainly be higher this year," he said. "We see it with other commodities. Sometimes if there's a freeze in the south, the price of lettuce goes up."

Issues from spring to fall

It was a difficult year for potato growers on P.E.I. First there was a cold spring which delayed the planting. That was followed by a hot, dry summer which affected yields.

Then the cold, wet fall meant not all the the potatoes could be harvested. Almost 3,000 hectares (7,000 acres) of potatoes are still in the ground on P.E.I., Keenan said, and he estimates his harvesting costs were up about 30 per cent.

From the Prairies to Prince Edward Island, a harsh fall harvest means Canada could be facing a serious potato shortage, one that may cause millions of dollars worth of Canadian potatoes to rot in the ground this year. 1:57

"This was certainly one of the most expensive crops we've ever harvested in terms of efficiencies in the field. We just couldn't get good production each day because of the weather."

Crop insurance

Keenan said he expects to tap into his crop insurance this year.

"We have a guaranteed yield and I would expect we'll be infringing on that this year for sure."

Seed potatoes were also affected, Keenan said, which could have a domino effect for next year's harvest.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Chapin


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