In a press release issued today, the grower organization NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) says that it is now becoming clear that the 2018 potato crop will be much lower and quality issues will be a main challenge throughout North-Western Europe. The NEPG represents potato growers in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK. “Extreme record drought conditions and exceptionally high temperatures are at the order of the day all over the main potato growing countries in Europe,” the organization says in the release. “Not even 50 % of the North-Western European potato acreage can be irrigated, and in spite of the high cost, irrigation pumps are working day and night. But in all countries restrictions for the use of water have been imposed by regional administrations.” The unfavourable conditions will also effect the yield for seed potatoes, the NEPG says.
The NEPG notes that irrigated fields still have growth potential, though. However for many fields the recent rains in some areas came too late. After the recent rain showers there is a treat of secondary growth, and the first cases of this are already reported. The first trial digs in mainland Europe show a large variation between irrigated and non-irrigated fields. For example, on average in France at this time, 13 to/ha bruto.
Many growers report that they will probably not be able to supply the contracted volume for processing potatoes, and the question is how the buyers will react and might force growers to supply their contracted volumes, even if buying at the actual expensive free market is needed. However free potatoes will be very scarce all over the NEPG area. The NEPG would regret if processors on an individual base will discuss the contract issues with their growers and the NEPG suggest an overall pan North-Western approach. This dry season and the change of climate is also a challenge for the potato supply chain to reconsider the contracts and market risks for the near future.