Weather Affects Potato Crops in Western Europe
The area for growing potatoes for consumption in the five North-West European countries is 595,587 ha, an increase 1% compared to last season, according to North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG).
The association warns that it is extremely dry in the NEPG countries and there are areas where culture begins to suffer a lack of water. According to the weather forecast, it should not rain in the short term. For the 2018 final crop, yields will have much more impact than the area planted.
Poland also reports dry conditions. The NEPG stresses, however, that it is still too early to make performance estimates during the first half of July.
In the NEPG countries on the continent, the first field samplings hawks for the processing industry show average to good yields and weights under water high to medium (respectively in non-irrigated and irrigated conditions).
The hasty harvest for the industry started in the Rhineland and will be followed by West Flanders. In Flanders, 2.670 hectares of hasty plants were planted, while in Germany remains the same.
Part of the harvest of plants from Dunkirk to Rüggen (Northern Germany) on the Baltic was harvested late because of heavy rains in late August and September. Consequence: quality problems in plants that did not begin to appear until May of this year after planting.
Plant problems, associated with erosion and mud torrents in May, and now the drought with either irrigation restrictions and / or problems or producers can not irrigate as much as they wish, could have a real influence on the final harvest.
In all NEPG countries, there are still more potatoes than can be used by industry. On the mainland, it has been very difficult to sell Bintje throughout the season. The NEPG estimates that Bintje’s surface will decrease further. Meanwhile, the price of old Fontane (and other varieties of long-term preservation) is appreciating.
NEPG is not the only association which mentioned the dry weather, but after three weeks without rainfall, AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm Scotland Open Day took place on the light loams of Bruce Farms near Meigle, Perthshire on Tuesday (10 July).
Around 70 growers, agronomists and industry representatives attended, as Bruce Farms Potato Manager, Kerr Howatson and industry expert, Dr Mark Stalham of NIAB CUF, headed both morning and afternoon sessions to advise attendees on crop response in dry conditions.
With only 39mm of rain at Bruce Farms, June’s rainfall was less than half the 20-year average, a huge difference in terms of what is required.
Kerr Howatson said: “We’ve been without rain since the 20 June, so we’re now beginning to see the effects of a prolonged dry spell, something that we’re not really used to. Typically we would only need to irrigate once, maybe twice every four to five years but we’re now looking at our fourth round of irrigation of the season. This is absolutely vital at the moment to keep the soil moisture deficit from rising too high, so the best advice would be to top up little and often. There is no point putting on significant quantities of water only to see your efforts literally evaporate into the air. At such an important point of the growing process, common scab is a clear worry for many growers. If the crop doesn’t get enough water, the levels of this disease could be a concern.”