The potato industry is a big business in Prince Edward Island! A 2011 economic impact study found that the industry is worth over a billion dollars to the Island economy each year! Potatoes are the primary cash crop on the Island and PEI continues to be the largest potato-producing province in Canada, growing one-quarter of the potatoes in the country.
Prince Edward Island Potatoes are grown for three specific markets:
- Table potatoes, sold to retail and food service sectors.
- Processing potatoes, manufactured into French fries, potato chips, and many other products.
- Seed potatoes, grown with high quality and health standards to yield future commercial potato crops.
Approximately 60% of Prince Edward Island potatoes are destined for processing, 30% go to the fresh market through retail or food service, while 10% are grown for seed purposes. Seed and table potatoes are shipped to over 20 countries annually, including the United States, Puerto Rico, Ukraine, Italy, Thailand, and more!
Prince Edward Island’s shipping season begins in late July, with early or “new” potatoes hitting the market in Atlantic Canada. The main crop is harvested starting in September. Shipments to all markets begin at this time, with round white, reds and yellow varieties often available first and russet varieties available later in the autumn months.
Russets: These are the most widely used potato varieties due to their versatility. These are the most common potatoes used in making French fries but are also great for making fluffy mashed potatoes, dry baked potatoes, and scalloped potatoes. The Russet Burbank is the most popular variety, but other popular russet varieties include Goldrush, Ranger Russet and Russet Norkotah.
Whites: These varieties cover a range of shapes, sizes, and growing seasons. Superiors are a round white variety that are harvested early in the season and are commonly sold as “new potatoes” in the summer months. Kennebec is another popular round white variety, excellent for making creamy mashed potatoes or used in potato salads, stews or soups. Round white varieties such as Atlantic and Dakota Pearl are popular in making potato chips. Shepody is a long white variety grown primarily as an early season potato for making French fries in PEI.
Reds: Most red potatoes have a rosy, red skin and white flesh. These potatoes are well suited for roasting, boiling or steaming due to their moist, firm texture. They can also make a colourful addition to salads with the skin left on. Popular red varieties include Red Norland and Chieftain.
Yellows: With their golden coloured flesh that looks like butter has already been added, yellow varieties are becoming increasingly popular in North America. The most popular yellow variety is definitely the Yukon Gold, popular both in stores and restaurants. Another increasingly popular yellow variety is the Innovator, a longer potato than the Yukon Gold that is somewhat similar to a russet in appearance.