Based on the latest NEPG-calculations, the potato area in the five Northwest European countries appears to amount to 595,587 hectares. An increase of one per cent compared to last season. It’s worth noting the British area is still based on their five-year average. Based on factual market experience, this area could be classified as having a more than adequately good balance between supply and demand, according to the NEPG.
For the actual harvest, the yield per hectare has a much larger impact than one per cent area expansion. It’s extremely dry in the NEPG countries, and the crop is starting to suffer from lack of water in some areas, while little rain is expected in the short term based on weather forecasts. Poland is also reporting dry circumstances. Yet the NEPG emphasises it’s still too early to make harvest estimates in the first half of July.
The first test harvests of early varieties on irrigated plots point to average yields and dry matter. However, major differences in development between the crops have also been reported. Mid-July, the early harvest in Rijnland starts, followed by the early area in Flanders. In Flanders, the area of early potatoes has decreased by 2,670 hectares, the area remained the same in Germany compared to last year.
Most of the NEPG countries have reported quite some problems regarding initial development. One mustn’t forget that the seed potato production from Dunkirk in France to Rüggen in Germany on the Baltic was harvested late because of very heavy rain in late August and September. In part because many seed potatoes are often harvested and stored late and not in ideal circumstances, and the planting season lasted long. Seed potatoes were affected by all this, resulting in irregular emergence on plots, visible from May. The combination of earlier local heavy rain and the current very dry period, with sometimes limited options to irrigate, will also affect the eventual harvest.
Finishing the old season
All NEPG countries actually have more in stock than will be processed. Bintje in particular was difficult to sell this season, and the NEPG expects the downward trend for the Bintje area will continue. As a result of weather circumstances, demand for the old harvest has suddenly recovered significantly, resulting in rapidly increasing prices for some varieties, while batches that were questionable before, are now becoming eligible for processing again.