Analysis Potatoes

Germany expects significant growth in potato acreage

June 5, 2024 - Niels van der Boom

The German statistical office Destatis expects an increase in potato acreage for the harvest year 2024. Last year, the cultivation decreased slightly. Wet conditions have a significant impact on grain cultivation, but so far there is no sign of this affecting potatoes and sugar beets.

For 2024, Destatis anticipates a total potato acreage of 275,400 hectares. This represents a 4% increase and the largest acreage in recent history. These figures should still be taken with a grain of salt. Last year, the statistical office also played around with the acreage numbers. Ultimately, the total acreage amounted to 264,700 hectares (1% or 1,600 hectares less than in 2022). The expected acreage for this year is 3% higher than the five-year average.

10,700 hectares growth
This year, an increase of 10,700 hectares is possible, which is quite significant considering the shortage of seed potatoes. Table and starch potato cultivation are also not segments where much growth is noticeable. Therefore, the increase must mainly come from fries potatoes and perhaps a small amount from seed potatoes. The figures are also based on recent rainfall. Nearly 10% of the German potato acreage still needed to be planted by the end of May. In the areas in southern Germany, where extreme amounts of rainfall have occurred and there are floods, the chance of planting at all is minimal.

It is still very early to say anything about yields. Looking at the average yield of last year (43.85 tons per hectare), theoretically the harvest could reach 12 million tons. Last year, it was 11.6 million tons. A significant portion consists of consumption potatoes. In 2023, there were 189,810 hectares from which 8.11 million tons were harvested.

Fifth more summer grains
The impact of a wet autumn and winter is clearly visible in the grains. Destatis expects a 8.3% decrease in winter wheat compared to 2023. The acreage amounts to 2.6 million hectares. Winter barley reaches 1.3 million hectares (+2.5%). Summer grains increase in acreage by almost a fifth compared to 2023. In total, it amounts to 1.1 million hectares, which is 188,000 hectares more than the previous year.

Summer wheat has more than tripled in area to nearly 100,000 hectares. Summer barley, on the other hand, grows by 'only' 13% to 363,200 hectares. There is also an increase in oats and maize cultivation. German farmers sowed nearly 6% less rapeseed last summer (1.1 million hectares). Maize cultivation is estimated at 2.1 million hectares by the statistical office, which is 5% more than in 2023. Sugar beets are growing by 6.5% to 421,600 hectares. Protein-rich crops such as peas and beans are growing in percentage, but in terms of area, they lag far behind the grains. The cultivation of dry peas has increased to over 132,000 hectares and that of field beans to 68,000 hectares.

Niels van der Boom

Niels van der Boom is a senior market specialist in potatoes and other soft commodities at DCA Market Intelligence.

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