b"Rising Costs Equal Falling AcresComing off of a hard growing season and with increasing production costs, European potato acreage may fall in 2022 .BY: ASHLEY ROBINSONITS BEEN A challenging few years for potatoSurging Production Costsgrowers in Europe. Between the pandemic, heatPotato production costs are on the rise across waves and floods in parts of Europe, and risingEurope for several reasons. The European Union production costs, it hasnt been easy to make achlorprophams (CIPC) usage wasnt renewed profit growing spuds. meaning potato growers could no longer use it The real problem this next year is going to befor sprouting control in storage starting in 2020. more about the supply of it rather than demand ofGrowers have been forced to use other sprouting it. In the beginning the pandemic it was all aboutcontrols which has increased storage costs.demand and lack of demand. Whereas now it'sAgricultural costs are also rising overall for probably going to be about lack of supply, Cedricfarmers internationally with fertilizer costs on the Porter, editor of World Potato Markets, explains in arise. Coupled with high land costs in Europe, and Zoom interview. rising selling prices for other commodities, many Overall, potato production in the North-westerngrowers are looking at planting other crops instead European Potato Growers (NEPG) region fell byof potatoes to make larger profits.24,000 hectares to 498,000 hectares in 2020. AThere's a real sort of temptation to grow fewer humid growing season and a delayed harvest ledpotatoes because you've got a much higher costs, to good to average yields, however net yields weretake less risks and get really good wheat prices. lower due to losses in fields due to water damageRather do that than have the high risk of growing and physiological problems. potatoes, Porter explains. This summer was cool and wet, so the potatoesIn Europe, not as many potato acres are contracted bulked more. We have more potatoes, but at thefor sale before planting as they are in North America. same time, in some regions or some countries,This means potato growers are taking more of aThe real spring was quite cold, much colder than usual, andrisk growing spuds than their counterparts acrossproblem this with less sun. I think the differences between fields,the pond. Porter explains at least 30 per cent ofnext year is countries, varieties are higher, Daniel Ryckmans,European potatoes annually are free market, whichgoing to be NEPG secretary, says in a Zoom interview. he expects will make growers even wearier ofmore about The variability in the growing season also led toplanting extra spud acres this year. the supply of pest and disease problems across Europe. Potatoes in Western Europe is always a We've had a sort of season where there's beencombination of offer on demand, contract and freeit rather than quite a lot of blight around, there's been quite a lotbuy. And then for the first time in the last years, andemand of it. In of diseases, and quite a lot of pests. So, what hasinfluence of cereal prices, because last year cerealthe beginning happened is that yields have sort of been average,prices were low, Ryckmans says. Now, becausethe pandemic on field yields if you like, but there's the grossthe prices are good, they could end up sowingit was all about yield, when you've taken out the waste, some ofmore winter cereals. demand and the problems and things settle down quite a lot,Porter expects there may be a small cut in potatolack of demand. Porter explains. acreage with an increase unlikely. The NEPG isWhereas now The pest and disease problems have led to widerpredicting contract prices for the 2022/23 growingits probably rotations in fields across Europe, and with land atseason will need to increase by three to fourgoing to be a premium there are less fields available to planteuros per 100 kg for growers to consider plantingabout lack of spuds. Countries such as Belgium and Holland arepotatoes. If this doesnt happen NEPG expectssupply. growing potatoes on as many fields as they canpotato area reductions will happen. with little opportunities to add more. However,CEDRIC PORTERpotato area in France is increasing rapidly as new regions have started planting spuds.56SPUDSMART.COM Winter 2022"