Cancel OK

Good times in the Maritimes

Canada’s top potato producer, Prince Edward Island accounted for more than 22 percent of the country’s potato production in 2017. That year, growers planted more than 83,000 acres of potatoes.

More than half of Prince Edward Island potatoes go to processing, 30 percent are harvested for the fresh market, and the rest are grown for seed purposes. In addition to potatoes, Prince Edward Island farmers also grow a few vegetable crops as well as various grains.

Fulton Hamill, president of Fulton Hamill, Ltd. in Albany, says the potato business has been relatively stable, but he has faced some obstacles over the last year. “Our biggest challenge is maintaining market share,” he says. “The buyers are getting a little scarce around here.”

There are, however, still plenty of benefits to having a potato-growing operation in Prince Edward Island, and one is location.

“We’ve got a great central location,” Hamill said, as island-grown product can be easily shipped to suppliers and retailers in Quebec for distribution in Canada, as well as up and down the U.S. East Coast.

Nova Scotia, the maritime province off the northeastern coast of Canada, cultivates more than 45,000 acres of fruit worth between $50 and $60 million annually. Home to 890 fruit growers, Nova Scotia’s top crops include strawberries, apples, and wild blueberries.

Blueberries are a provincial favorite: each year, more 40 million pounds are produced with exports of the antioxidant champ berries bringing in $70 million, shipped to suppliers across the globe.

New Brunswick, like several of its sibling provinces, is a major fruit producer. Apples, blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries are at the top of the list, primarily grown in the fertile St. John River Valley. With 415 fruit growers, the province’s total fruit farm gate value reached $24 million in 2017.

As far as vegetables go, New Brunswick’s top crop is potatoes. The province produces nearly 50,000 acres of potatoes each year, with more than half destined for processing, a quarter for fresh market, and the rest for seed.