Why PEI Potatoes?
Growing potatoes on Prince Edward Island is much more than just an industry…it’s a way of life! Islanders have been growing potatoes since the late 1700’s and the industry remains the lifeblood of the Island economy. The pride that PEI growers take in producing high quality potatoes stems from hard work and generational farming knowledge that ensures their success.
The average potato grower on the Island grew up on a farm, learning valuable lessons from the previous generation on successfully producing food for others. There are approximately 200 potato farms on PEI, with the grand majority of these being family farms, often with multiple generations working together. Most families on the Island are connected in some way to the farm, either through direct employment or through their family and friends.
In fact, the potato industry is worth over a billion dollars to the Prince Edward Island economy every year, according to an economic impact study completed in 2010. This includes the value of the crop, the direct employment generated by the industry, as well as the additional services and industries that rely on a healthy potato sector to prosper. Over 88,000 acres of potatoes are grown on PEI each year, making it the largest commercial crop grown on the Island, generating 50% of farm cash receipts in the province. This also makes PEI the largest potato producing province in Canada!
Prince Edward Island has such a rich history of growing potatoes because the province has near ideal growing conditions for its most famous crop. Our red, sandy soil, rich in iron, is perfectly suited for potatoes, as it retains just the right amount of moisture during the growing season but is then effectively cleansed over the winter. Warm summers, cold winters and adequate annual rainfall result in excellent growing conditions with the right balance of heat, light, and water to maximize yields and tuber quality. Additionally, being an island provides a distinct advantage to PEI when it comes to growing potatoes. The ocean acts as a natural barrier against airborne or insect-borne diseases. As well, this easy access to the ocean facilitates transportation of the crop, while limited points of entry allow us to control the movement of potatoes into and out of the province. Island growers also practice environmentally sustainable farming practices and follow the most stringent environmental standards in Canada.
Prince Edward Island potato growers take pride in the quality of their product and show their commitment to quality in a number of different ways. For one, the industry tracks all movement of potatoes from the Island and inspects all shipments before leaving the province to ensure that only the highest quality potatoes are reaching consumers. Potato farmers also collectively own and operate an Elite Seed Farm, established in 1962, which is dedicated to producing high quality seed, monitoring plant health, and eradicating disease in seed stock.