Seed World

Rain Causes Delayed EU Potato Harvest

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An over abundance of rainfall has caused a lot of potatoes to go unharvested in the European Union, a Nov. 24 news release from the North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) said.

“The lifting period was too short to get the potatoes stored in good conditions. Contracts for the upcoming season have to take higher rising risks and costs into account,” the release said. Adding that seed availability is a concern for 2024.

Potato yields were good following a moderate summer, averaging 45.8 tonnes per hectare which is an increase of 6.3 year-over-year. The release noted that combined with an increased planted area, total production is estimated at 23.6 million tonnes, however to date only 22.2 million tonnes have been harvested.

“NEPG does not speculate on how much will still be harvested, but part of the crop is lost for good.”

The rain started in October, with harvest brought to a halt after only three weeks. The release stated that as of mid-November up to 250 mm of rain has fallen. Northern France, western Belgium and the coastal regions in Holland were the hardest hit. Holland has 15 per cent of hectares left to harvest and Belgium 11 per cent.

“Some potatoes cannot get out of the ground. Potatoes staying in anaerobic conditions can rotten. Those that will be harvested, will possibly face quality problems and eventually will not be stored. Some contracts will not be fulfilled.”

The release noted free market availability is tight with prices rising from 8 € to 20 € per 100 kg.

“Demand for healthy, dry potatoes is high both for industry and export. The coming weeks will show how many potatoes can still be lifted.”

Less hectares, fewer and bigger tubers than usual, and more downgraded seeds in the Benelux, France, Germany, Denmark and Scotland regions, will lead to a 20 per cent decrease in seed availability for 2024, the release said.