The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) have come to a new harvest estimation for consumption potatoes in the leading five northwestern potato countries (France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain and Germany). If all potatoes are lifted, about 26.9 million tons will be harvested. This is 10 per cent more than last season and 1.8 per cent more than the five-year average. The years 2014 and 2017 brought much larger harvests.
This season, the larger harvest was caused by the increased area for consumption potatoes in the big five countries with nine per cent compared with the five-year average. This year, overall average yields are estimated at 43.9 tons/ha which is 6.8 per cent under the five-year average, however around three tons more than last season.
For Great Britain, where the harvest is always later, no estimations are available yet, and the five-year average was used; however, this will likely be close to reality. In Great Britain 70 per cent of consumption potatoes are harvested. The final figures for the 2019 NEPG crop will be published at the end of November.
Harvest Late and Not Finished
This year’s harvest is later than usual. During September, all available irrigation systems were running as it was too dry and in October it was too wet to harvest. In Belgium and The Netherlands almost 60 per cent had to be harvested last weekend. However, since several days the harvest could restart again and under normal circumstances the harvest will be brought into the stores safely by growers.
The quality is fine, however, extra attention and monitoring is needed during storage season as many potatoes entered the stores in wet conditions. Some rots (bacteria and fungi) have been reported and good ventilation and drying is needed.
There has been a continuing export to Poland and other southeastern and southern European countries during the last weeks and the movement is continuing. All tonnes gone are tonnes which won’t be available for the EU-05 market. The processors started their demand early this season. The price level has an upward trend since about two or three weeks, and for the future all depending on final harvests and the quality during storage.
Overall the NEPG remarks that on the mainland production costs went up and will continue to increase in the coming years, due to more irrigation, more harvesting costs for the potatoes harvested in wet conditions, and especially higher storage costs. This is due to the higher costs for alternatives to CIPC and for cleaning storages. Reportedly, this is the same for Great Britain also. This context must be considered on the mainland for the contracts that will be signed for the next campaign. The NEPG advices not to increase on the mainland next year’s area anymore. “If we have a normal harvest with this existing area, the market will not be in balance anymore,” according to the secretary of the NEPG.