Cold weather and lack of rain have delayed the initial growth of the 2017 early crop. The first potatoes of the new crop come from Rheinland, Germany and only part of these early potato crops are irrigated. With normal levels of rainfall expected in the next few weeks for this time of the year, our German supplier anticipates that the delivery of the new crop potatoes may still start during the third week of July. The situation remains exciting with a limited supply of the old crop and the uncertainty about the connection between the old and the new crop.
On the 11th April, the NEPG published the 2017 estimated hectare figures for the EU-5. With a total of 572.485ha., the area has grown by 3.6% compared to last year. In 2016 the area had already expanded by 4.8%, but this didn't result in a higher 2016 production. Despite the area increasing, the 2016 production trailed behind 2015 by 3%, due to very unfavourable growing conditions.
In our European climate zone, weather circumstances and the structure of the soil - which also depends on the weather - may result in very different yields per ha. The EU-5 average yield per hectare from 2012 till 2016 was 46.8 tons, with a 2012 minimum of 44.0 tons and a 2014 maximum of 52.1 tons.
This maximum of 52.1 tons per hectare, which is 18.2 % above the
minimum yield of 44 tons, highlights that area figures do not
determine the final production of an EU-5 crop year.
This illustrates why it is so difficult to predict anything about production volumes and even more about prices.
The main crop had an early start with favourable planting conditions in April. During the month of May, the low temperatures delayed the development of the crop and lack of rain, combined with high temperatures in the second half of May, did not help to improve the situation.
Despite dry soils, the crop is growing and does not show signs that it is suffering from the drought. It appears that the plants are developing a good root system that might help them through dry periods later in the season. With occasional showers and the rainfall anticipated in the coming weeks, there is no reason we should expect problems with the 2017 crop.
Now in June we can conclude that the hectarage has expanded enough to meet the increased demand of the EU potato processing industry, however the weather will determine the final yield per hectare, and with that, the total EU-5 2017 potato production.
Jan Willem Peters