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NEPG potato planted area up 4.6%

Publication Date: 
7 July 2017

Amber Cottingham, Analyst, amber.cottingham@ahdb.org.uk, 02476 478698

The total potato area in North-Western Europe (GB, Belgium, France, Netherlands and Germany) for 2017 has been estimated at 579,000ha. This is 4.6% higher than last year and 8.3% more than the five year average. The potato area in all five countries is estimated to be higher year on year, with the biggest increase for Belgium; predicted to be up by 5.4% on last year.

This area estimate is based on the individual NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) countries estimates.

The GB potato area is estimated at 121,000 hectares, up 4% year on year, as discussed at our special webinar last week. To read more on this click here for the Press Release, or to listen to the webinar recording, with accompanying slides, click here.

It should be emphasised that an increase in area does not automatically mean that output will increase, as yields per hectare often have a greater impact than the planted area. Some scenario calculations against the current GB planted area estimate suggested that production could be in the region of 14% lower to 13% higher, based on historical yields. These scenarios are discussed in more detail in the webinar.

Still too early to estimate yields

According to the NEPG, it is still too early to estimate total harvest size. In recent weeks, it has been extremely dry and in some cases, there have been restrictions for irrigation. The upcoming harvest of Belgium’s early processing varieties is currently estimated to be 20-25% less than last year (NEPG). However, despite drought conditions, the main crop is said to be in good shape, including in GB, where drought pressure was alleviated by rain in many areas. On the continent, with rain having returned in some areas, there has been some secondary growth reported which will be monitored carefully.

The weather and growing conditions in the coming weeks will be the determining criteria, bearing in mind that most of the maincrop bulking takes place during July and August. At this point in the season, all scenarios are possible.

Almost 750,000 tonnes more needed to feed increasing European processing demand

Due to the growth in processing capacity and exports of processed products outside the EU, the NEPG estimates that there will be an additional need for around 750,000 tonnes more raw potatoes for the 2017 season. This is reported to be particularly the case for Belgium, where processing capacity has been continuously expanding; as such the extra area planted is in line with increased demand requirements.

Later in the summer, the NEPG aims to produce more specific estimates, based on information collected through trial digs. 

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