(Sept. 14) Lower potato volumes from Prince Edward Island, Canada, combined with possible supply declines in other northern growing regions, could strengthen spud markets this fall and winter, Prince Edward Island grower-shippers and officials said.

A lack of rain during the growing season will cut into volumes and could prevent spuds from sizing, predicted Gary Linkletter, co-owner of Linkletter Farms Ltd., Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

“We need rain in the worst way,” Linkletter said Sept. 10. “Sizing is a big concern.”

Quality should be good however, Linkletter said, with little scabbing and sunburn expected.

Volumes also will be down due to lack of rainfall for W.P. Griffin Inc., Elmsdale, Prince Edward Island, said John Griffin, president. Growing regions on the western end of the island suffered more from dry conditions, while those in the central and eastern regions are considerably better off, he said.

“Last year was a record crop,” Griffin said. “This year there could be quite a change.”

Aside from a smaller-than-expected Prince Edward Island crop, other factors could strengthen markets this season, Linkletter said. Ontario also suffered from dry weather this summer, and could increase its shipments from the island, he said. Also, a strong euro and reports of growing problems in Europe could increase export demand.

The dry conditions in Ontario could produce the smallest potato crop there in a decade, Griffin said. In addition, dry weather could affect deals in Wisconsin, New York and Massachusetts, possibly increasing demand for Prince Edward Island spuds, he said.

On Sept. 11, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $5-5.50 for 10-pound film bags of non-size-A norkotahs from Wisconsin, down from $6.50-6.75 last year at the same time.

While some regions of the island were dry this summer, there was adequate rainfall for most growers, said Rachael Cheverie, integrated pest management specialist for the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture, Charlottetown.

“It looks good out there,” she said. “We’ve had ideal temperatures and a lot of rain.”

Cheverie reported little pest pressure aside from the usual minor outbreaks of late blight. That’s a welcome relief from last year, when hollow heart and sunburn produced high cull rates, Griffin said.