Europe, UK, Ireland, Trade/Markets/Prices, Trends

European potato crop impacted by extreme humidity, late blight spray costs at historical level

North Western Europe will have had one of its most humid summers in the last decades – in some areas in Belgium and Western Germany, rainfall at mid-July was an absolute historic high. The North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) reports that since mid-July late blight problems have been a constant worry for growers, and spray costs will also be on a historic level.

A growing number of producers say late blight outbreaks are more or less under control but will one way or the other have an influence on the season (lower net yields and/or quality issues).

NEPG says the worldwide pandemic due to Covid-19 is still ongoing and will still be weighing on potato markets.

Average yields and possible quality issues and storing difficulties

According to the NEPG, global yields at EU-04 level (NEPG zone) are expected to be roughly equal to those of last year, i.e. 45 tonnes/ha and slightly above the 5 year average, There will be relative important differences between gross and net yields. And there are still many uncertainties about quality issues (rot, hollow hearts, cracks, low UWW in some cases), harvesting conditions and storability.

The total production in the NEPG zone is expected to be around 22,4 million tonnes (produced on an area of 497.700 ha). It’s less than last year, mainly due to reduced planted area (thanks partly to the NEPG call), and similar to the 5 years average.

Growing potatoes is an ever more expensive business (above average spray costs 2021, higher energy costs for storage 2021-2022), and will continue to be so. Higher prices for cereals and rapeseed, combined with greater potato production costs could have an influence on the 2022 potato area.

Covid-19 still an issue, but good ongoing sales and export of processed products

NEPG says the worldwide pandemic due to Covid-19 is still ongoing and will still be weighing on potato markets and sales of processed products throughout the coming marketing season. Nobody knows what the influence of the developing delta variant (and others to come) will have on global trade and markets.

Nevertheless, since the end of spring and throughout the summer, processors have been working at full capacity. EU-27 exports (i.e. outside the Union) were very good in June (+ 63 % compared to June 2020). Total sales of European processed potato products were up by 13% comparing season 2020/21 with the 2019/20 one.

There where big variations of destinations and volumes exported during this last 12 months period. Due to the very hot and dry summer in Southern Europe, North Africa and the near East, exports of fresh potatoes to the Mediterranean basin and possibly to eastern Europe could be good.

Source: NEPG
Photo: Courtesy Potato Business

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