The European Union is bracing for a challenging 2024 growing season as the supply of potato seed dwindles, reports Belpotato.be in a recent press release. A significant reduction in seed-producing areas has been observed across the EU’s top five seed-producing nations – the Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark, and Belgium. Since 2022, these countries have seen a collective decrease of 10,000 hectares in seed cultivation, bringing the total area down to approximately 84,200 hectares.
The 2023 seed production cycle, as detailed by Belpotato.be, experienced only average yields. The seeds were notably larger in size, yielding fewer tubers per plant. Additionally, the season was marked by intense viral pressures early on, leading to a substantial rate of downgrading during the certification process. The situation was further exacerbated by persistent rains, particularly in the Netherlands, preventing the harvest of several hundred hectares.
This confluence of factors has precipitated a stark decrease in the availability of potato seeds for the upcoming season. Meanwhile, demand continues to surge, especially for processing varieties, as the European potato industry aims to expand its cultivation footprint. Consequently, seed prices are soaring, affecting all sectors – from fries and chips to fresh market potatoes – and impacting both contract-bound and independent commercial transactions.
In light of these developments, potato producers, whether in the processing or fresh sectors, may feel compelled to seek alternative seed sources beyond their traditional supply chains. Belpotato.be emphasizes the importance of adhering to all prevailing rules and standards in the industry to mitigate the challenges posed by this shortage.
The seed supply issue for the 2024 season poses significant challenges across the entire potato industry value chain. Beyond the immediate financial implications, it threatens the yield and quality of potato production. Belpotato.be underscores the sector-wide need to stabilize potato seed cultivation areas within the European Union to ensure a sustainable future for the industry.