Manitoba is set to become the largest producer of potatoes in Canada, even surpassing Prince Edward Island.

Speaking at Manitoba Ag Days last week, Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler said Simplot's $460 million dollar expansion at Portage will give the province a big boost.

"They're right on schedule, they may be two or three weeks behind, but they'll be accepting potatoes in September/October with the intent of being in full production by January," commented Eichler. "This year is critical to get a decent crop. We had some troubles this past year, we had to bring potatoes in from other province's and some from actually Idaho, so we're hoping to be able to grow those here in Manitoba and have the farmers reap the dividends of that."

About 16,000 additional potato acres are expected to be added to Manitoba as a result of the Portage Simplot expansion.

McCain Foods has also announced investments to boost efficiency at its plants in Portage and Carberry.

Manitoba Potato Production Days also took place this week in Brandon at the Keystone Centre.

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