The North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) says in a recent news release that “It is much more the production per hectare than the total acreage that will be an important factor for the outcome of the 2021 potato harvest.”
In all of the so-called EU-04 countries (Belgium, France, Germany and The Netherlands), “potato plants have developed a lot of leaves, but tubers are much smaller than average. The saying ‘A lot of haulm, no tubers‘ can often be heard. Tuberization in maincrop varieties seems higher than what was the case the last 3 or 4 years”, the association says.
Estimates of the total harvest also depend on external factors such as rainfall and temperature. “Should we get a heat wave and/or drought, maincrop varieties could be affected much more than was the case during the last years,” according to NEPG.
NEPG recently announced that the total potato acreage within the NEPG region has decreased by 4.7 percent in 2021, as the potato acreage in the EU-04 countries declined with 24,600 hectares, from 522,300 hectares to 497,700 hectares. The association calls this a historical event, since the acreage for the last two decades for the most part went up year after year.
NEPG notes that potato growers are facing several challenges. “Production costs for the 2021-2022 season are already building up: higher costs for blight (and other) sprays, higher energy prices (diesel and electricity), higher prices for fertilizers (liquid nitrogen saw its price double in a few months).”
“More sustainable and robust varieties are needed, be it with more blight resistance, and higher drought and heat tolerances. Varieties which need less fertilizers and are more N-efficient are also needed”, NEPG says.