(Sept. 22) CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island — The early gold rush russets will see lower yields, but as the weather cools and the storage season begins in early October, shippers should be able to bring in average volumes this season.

Harvest begins the week of Sept. 26, with round whites and the oblong white shepodies, said Prince Edward Island Potato Board general manager Ivan Noonan, followed by the russet burbank around Oct. 5. The majority of the island’s crop is the burbank, Noonan said.

Prince Edward Island’s potato crop, with the same as last year’s 106,000 acres, is the largest of all Canadian Provinces, according to Statistics Canada, the counterpart to the U.S. Depart-ment of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Total potato production, including those planted for processing, was 117.8 million cwt. Prince Edward Island produced 29 million cwt., according to Statistics Canada, but Noonan said the actual production was a million lower than that.

Overall, this year’s production should be the same or slightly lower, Noonan said. Yields will probably average 265-270 cwt. per acre, he said.

“Some gold rush may be smaller, but that’s a smaller part of our acreage,” he said. “We’re looking for our counts and sizes to be nice. Growers are saying they haven’t seen such nice, smooth russets in years, in the trials they’re doing.”

PRICES

Delaware f.o.b.s on Sept. 20 were $4-4.50 for 50-pound sacks of round white size A potatoes and $1-1.10 for 10-pound sacks of loose potatoes.

Melis Visser, co-owner of Visser Potato Ltd., Crapaud, said his company will start harvest of superiors, norvalleys and gold rushes the week of Sept. 26. The entire harvests lasts five to six weeks, and Visser Potato usually ships until June each season.

Noonan said weather cooled down the week of Sept. 19, making temperatures better suited for storage. Visser said his company will start storing potatoes as soon as harvest begins.

More growers are switching to the gold rush variety, which matures sooner than the burbank and has a better eating quality than the norkotah, said Gary Linkletter, co-owner of Linkletter Farms Ltd., Summerside.

“The season started off reasonably cool and damp, but it came around quite nicely, maybe a little dry in August,” Linkletter said. “But the rains came, and we’re looking for a good, aver-age crop at this point and things are looking decent. It won’t be a bumper crop.”