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Slow start to European planting

Publication Date: 
15 April 2016

Amber Cottingham, Analyst, amber.cottingham@ahdb.org.uk, 02476 478 698

Similarly to GB, unseasonably cold, wet weather across Europe has delayed planting of the 2016 potato crop across much of the North-west European Potato Growers (NEPG) region (France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and GB). In GB, estimates suggest that planting progress is approximately a week behind average.

Much like GB, Fiwap report that Belgium has suffered from lower than average temperatures and higher than normal rainfall. This has led to slower planting progress as soil remains too cold and wet to plant. So far, approximately 30% of the crop has been planted, mainly on lighter, sandier soils. This is around two weeks later than average.

UNPT estimate that planting in France is approximately one week behind usual with between 5 and 10% of the maincrop planted. Again this delay has been caused by poor weather, too cold and too wet to really get started. However, more recently the weather has improved and forecasts look positive. Plantings are progressing at pace on the lighter, silt soils but not yet on the heavier clay soils.

In Germany, plantings have recently been interrupted due to rain but progress is much further on than for the other NEPG countries. According to REKA, planting of early ware potatoes is 95% complete in Pfalz and Lower Saxony and 80% in Rhineland. Planting of the later varieties has started in all areas and reports suggest is approximately 40% complete. Early processing potato plantings are nearly 90% complete in Lower Saxony and 70-80% complete in Rhineland. Germany’s planting is reported to be on schedule so far.

Planting progress in the Netherlands is around one week later than usual this year with approximately 10% of the crop planted, according to Phaff Export Marketing. This is around 15% down on an average year and is due to the prolonged cold and wet periods causing the ground to be overly wet. At the moment the delay isn’t causing concern, as few earlies are typically planted in The Netherlands. However, the next few weeks will be crucial to ensure planting of maincrop doesn’t fall too far behind which could lead to a later harvest.

Across much of North-western Europe planting has been delayed compared to a typical season. We know that for GB, if planting is delayed then the requirement for imports from June to September is increased to bridge the gap until home grown supply is available. Therefore if European planting and, therefore, harvest is also delayed, this may mean that GB will need to look further towards the Mediterranean to fulfil import requirements.

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