Lack of seed potatoes may reduce area growth in Northwestern Europe

A lack of seed potatoes might reduce the growth of next year’s potato area for processing potatoes and contracts. According to the NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) the expected growth of next year’s potato area might be less than previously estimated. 

In the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France there is a serious lack of seed potatoes to grow processing potatoes. The United Kingdom is the only NPEG member not suffering from this shortage. At the same time the processors will have yet again extended their processing capacity to between 700 and 800.000 tonnes, and contract prices have gained 20 to 30 €/1000 kg for the earlies (delivery mid-July) and between 10 and 15 €/1000 kg for the main crop varieties.

Growers and processors are searching for alternatives like very small seeds (25- 28mm), seed cutting, the use of alternative new varieties or dual purpose potatoes from the starch growers. 

New, lesser known varieties, like Bintje and the revival of some varieties like Asterix and Desiree will be planted. Growers have to manage the risks here very carefully according to the NEPG to keep the quality at the desired high level. 

Most of the processing variety seeds are in the hands of the processors. This fact gives them the opportunity to let farmers sign contracts where the growers has to deliver the contracted potatoes back. 

According to the NEPG a harvest volume is mainly based upon the final yields per hectare and not upon the number of hectares. If next year’s yields are of average levels, there will be enough potatoes available for last year's planted area. 

Actual stocks and the market
For the second half of this season several NEPG countries will publish their stock figure in the coming weeks however it is expected that the overall quantity will be lower than last year. 

This is also indicated by the actual price level and future market. The major question is the exact percentage of wastage of the potatoes in store and how flexible the processing industry is with specifications. The more wastage a grower has the less free potatoes remain for sale. 

Important for the market mood will be the planting conditions and the timing of the spring. However it is obvious that there will be much demand for good quality stored potatoes and the new early harvest in July. 

Due to the high seed potato prices the NEPG indicates that this has a direct effect upon the cost price for growing potatoes. 

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