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Drought conditions causing concern in NEPG countries

Publication Date: 
13 July 2018

Aidan Wright, Analyst, aidan.wright@ahdb.org.uk, 02476 478 894

The NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) anticipates a 1% increase in the potatoes planted area for the 2018 season, compared to last year (including Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain), while the crop contends with drought conditions. 

According to its latest press release, NEPG has updated its potatoes planted area to 595.6Kha, a slight increase from the May estimate (585.6Kha). It should be noted that the five year average (2012-2017) has been used for Great Britain. This is due to delayed planting making AHDB unable to provide an accurate 2018 area figure at this time.

Crops remain thirsty

It is important to note that while planted area is estimated to have increased, the factor that will have a greater impact on 2018 production is crop yield. Many regions of the NEPG countries are currently suffering from drought, and rainfall is not expected in most regions for the coming weeks. While prolonged drought has the potential to impact yields, the NEPG stressed that it is too early to make yield estimations. Should the crop received adequate precipitation over the next month, then the impact of the drought may be mitigated so some extent. If this is the case, then an increase in planted area combined with good yields is likely to results in a second year of oversupply for the continental market.

Early processing harvest underway in continental NEPG countries

On mainland NEPG countries, the first trial digs for the early processing crop have shown around average yields and dry matter, with results from irrigated fields remaining more consistent. More will become apparent as harvest gets underway in the coming weeks.

Late seed harvest linked to emergence issues in continental crops

There have been reports of crops having issues with emergence over the past few weeks from the continental NEPG countries. This may be in part explained by quality issues in seed which only began to show in May after planting. The quality issues may be due in part to late harvesting of much of the seed crop, with crops from Dunkirk in France to Rüggen in Germany, on the Baltic, suffering from heavy rainfall in late August and September. The issues with seed coupled with erosion and mud streams in May have the potential to impact the final harvest. The same is true of the current drought, with the emerging risk of irrigation restrictions posing a possible risk to yields when the maincrop begins to be harvested.

Old crop stores remain ample

Old crop stock levels remain high across NEPG countries and it is reported that it is likely that not all stocks will be utilised by the end of the season. Continental NEPG countries reported that Bintje was particularly difficult to sell and, as a result, it is likely that the area planted to Bintje is expected to decline again this year. However, demand for other old crop frying varieties remains strong with prices for good quality Fontane and other frying varieties increasing.

Further information on the situation in mainland NEPG countries can be found in the July 2018 NEPG press release and at https://twitter.com/NorthGrowers

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