The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) estimates the 2019 forecasted potato harvest between 27 and 27.3 million tons for the five leading potato countries. This is three per cent more than the five-year average and 12 per cent more than last year. At this stage, the estimations are mainly based upon trial digs. Nevertheless, the NEPG stresses this is an estimation — final trial digs will take place at the beginning of October — and almost the entire crop is still in the fields.
More Potatoes Planted
This year, it’s not yield that is making a larger harvest, but an increase of potato area compared with last year. All NEPG countries, except Great Britain, planted more potatoes: in France 14 per cent more than the five-year average area.
Over the five countries, the average yield is estimated right now at 44.7 tons/ha compared with 47.1 tons/ha of the five-year average. Last year, with the lack of rain, the average was 40.9 tons/ha.
Due to the small percentage of irrigation (and somewhat less rainfall) the lowest yield estimations were given for Belgium. In France, Belgium, and larger parts of Germany, the crop on the field has almost died off with hardly growth power for the remaining days or weeks. The latest digs showed a levelling of the yields. In the Netherlands, Great Britain and in some areas of Germany, green crops can still be found in some locations. Also, within the five countries, enormous yield differences are reported by variety and location. Those areas with low irrigation opportunities show the lowest yields. In Great Britain, the harvest is later and there the yields are based upon the five-year average. Also, the starch potato harvest shows lower yields this year.
These estimations are not reflected in the actual price levels, and the NEPG expects prices could increase over the upcoming weeks on the Continent. The factories were hungrier for raw material early in the summer when compared with last year, and the season started nearly empty and a bit sooner than usual. And processing capacities are still increasing. At one point, the processing season was a bit disrupted with earlies from Bordeaux, Rhineland and Belgium arriving at the same time, which didn’t help prices firming.
Competitiveness of final products from the EU will be better this year on the global market, with potato prices not as high as last year. Eastern European countries report much lower yields. The EU satellite program MARS indicates a five to 10 per cent lower harvest (compared to the five-year average) in Poland and several other Eastern countries. There is already a lively export from the NEPG countries to Poland and Romania. The MARS indications for the EU 28 are 3.1 per cent lower compared with the five-year average (August report).
By the end of October, the NEPG will do a second estimation over the big five.