Analysis Potatoes

Potato crop is thriving in Dutch summer weather

July 5, 2024 - Jurphaas Lugtenburg

It can often turn out differently than expected. If that is evident anywhere, it is in potatoes. Are there enough potatoes to last the season until the new ones arrive, and what should happen with the upcoming harvest? Those were the big questions this spring. However, things are not as bad as they seem. It is sometimes said that potatoes are like weeds, and you might almost believe it when you see the situation in the field.

Here and there, potatoes have been planted in a way that makes you think: if that goes, you can get away with everthing and you never ever have to worry about wet field conditions again. It is not surprising that on those fields the potatoes are not in great shape. In places that have suffered from waterlogging due to heavy rainfall, things have not gone well either. Yet, it is astonishing how potatoes can grow in a classic Dutch summer weather. Potatoes that were planted fairly early this year - say until mid-May - have grown very rapidly. Do not underestimate the amount of potatoes that are there, both in number and weight.

We know it well, but moisture during tuber formation determines the number, and rain from above cannot be compensated for by irrigation. It may be a bit early, and the potatoes are far from being safely stored, but you could almost say that the seed potato shortages for next season have largely been resolved by a growth-friendly June. Another two weeks of this weather as predicted, and there is almost an average yield among the timely planted table potatoes. Note: the later planted potatoes - which is still quite a significant portion in the south - have a lot of catching up to do.

Growth does not come for free
The growth-friendly weather does come at a price. The disease pressure is extremely high. The plant is rapidly producing new layers of leaves. It is a race to protect them. The reduced range of products is causing quite a headache in a year like this. How do you keep a crop healthy and vital when the tools for that are gradually disappearing and there is little new coming in their place?

The remarkable course of the growing season also has some influence on the potato market. Belgapom kept the price stable this week but shifted the mood back to calm. Reka in Germany even went a step further and lowered the price to €60.

The price on the Reka is not bad at all (although as a grower you would prefer more), but there is no further increase to €65 or €70 that some growers were speculating about. Selling what is not there is not possible, but in the potato market, it has been shown in the past that selling what is actually there does not always go smoothly either.

Jurphaas Lugtenburg

Jurphaas Lugtenburg is a market specialist in onions, carrots, and commodities such as wheat, corn, and soybeans at DCA Market Intelligence. He combines his degree in business administration with a passion for farming.
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