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NEPG: Above average European potato harvest expected

The NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) estimates the forecasted potato harvest for the 2019 season to be between 27 and 27,3 million tons for the 5 leading European potato producing countries.

The NEPG estimate at this time is said to be 3% more than the 5 year average, and 12% more than last year. At this stage, the estimates are mainly based upon trial digs performed recently.

Nevertheless, the NEPG stresses that this is an estimate only at this time – final trial digs will take place at the beginning of October – and almost the whole crop is still not harvested and still growing in fields.

This year it seems that it is not the overall yield that makes for a larger harvest, but the increase of the potato area compared with last year. All NEPG countries, except Great Britain, planted more potatoes. In France 14% more was planted if compared to the 5 year average.

For the 5 most prominent North-Western European countries the average yield is estimated right now at 44.7 to/ha – compared to 47,1 to/ha for the 5 year average for these countries. Last year – with a lack of rain during season – the average yield was 40,9 to/ha.

Due to the small percentage of irrigation (and somewhat less rainfall too) the lowest yield estimations were recorded in Belgium. In France, Belgium and larger parts of Germany, the crop has almost died off with hardly any growth potential during the days and weeks. The latest digs showed a leveling of yields. In the Netherlands, Great Britain and in some German areas, green crops can reportedly be found in some locations.

The NEPG says that within the 5 countries enormous yield differences are reported by variety and location. The areas with low irrigation opportunities show the lowest yields, as can be expected.

In Great Britain the harvest is later and here the yields are based upon the 5 years average. Also, the starch potato harvest shows lower yields this year.

These estimations are not reflected in the actual price level and the NEPG expects that the price could increase over the upcoming weeks on the continent.

Factories were “hungrier” for raw material early in the summer – more so than last year, the NEPG says – and the season started nearly empty and also a bit sooner than usual. Processing capacities are still increasing. At one point, the processing season was a bit disrupted with earlies coming in from Bordeaux, Rhineland and Belgium – all arriving at the same time, which didn’t help prices firming.

The NEPG expects competitiveness of final products from the EU will be better this year on the global market, with potato prices not as high as last year.

Eastern European countries report much lower yields. The EU satellite programme MARS indicates a 5 to 10% lower harvest (compared to the 5 years average) in Poland and several other Eastern countries. The MARS indications for the EU 28 are 3.1% lower compared with the 5 years average (August report).

By the end of October, the NEPG says it will do a second estimate regarding the five most important European potato producing countries.

Source: NEPG

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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