News Potatoes

Potato cultivation is full of uncertainties

July 2, 2024 - Jurphaas Lugtenburg

That the start of the growing season for potatoes is difficult is an understatement. Wet conditions during planting - a part of the acreage was planted very late - problems with emergence and high phytophthora pressure, sums up North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG). Due to the expansion of processing capacity in Europe, the supply-demand ratio is in favor of the growers according to the organization. But there are no guarantees and NEPG issues a profit warning.

Not all final acreage figures are known yet, but NEPG assumes an expansion of 4% to 6% in North-West Europe. The planting period ranges from eight to ten weeks. This can also be seen in the crop development. From fields in full bloom with tubers already forming, to fields that were only planted last week. Problems with emergence are more common than not. This ranges from a few percent of potatoes not emerging to 80% where no plants grow due to seed potatoes rotting in the ground. The latter is especially a problem in Belgium and the Netherlands according to NEPG. The association also highlights the high phytophthora pressure. Problems linked to climate change, a reduced range of chemicals, new resistant strains, and common varieties susceptible to phytophthora only increase the cultivation risks.

However, potato processors have not been idle and the processing capacity has been significantly expanded, especially in France, with no end in sight to these expansion plans. The sales of frozen fries and other potato products are stagnating or even showing a decline according to NEPG. European processors face increased competition not only from North America but also from emerging markets such as China, India, Turkey, and Argentina. Growers need to be aware of this when planning expansions or investments according to NEPG.

Jurphaas Lugtenburg

Jurphaas Lugtenburg is a market specialist in onions, carrots, and commodities such as wheat, corn, and soybeans at DCA Market Intelligence. He combines his degree in business administration with a passion for farming.

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