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Bart Nemegheer, De Aardappelhoeve:

“Challenge is to guarantee quality of the potatoes”

The potato market is still under pressure because of the dry weather. “The rain that fell in recent days, is a bit too late. The damage has been done. Some varieties will recover somewhat, but yields will be low. Yields are between 15 and 30 tonnes, and that’s very disappointing,” says Bart Nemegheer of De Aardappelhoeve. It’s difficult to fulfil the contracts on the market, because growers don’t have the potatoes. “Last week there was a meeting between industry and the potato sector, and it was decided to relax quality requirements somewhat. People are looking for a solution, but this year is just going to be problematic.”

Bart Nemegheer of De Aardappelhoeve.

Free trade also has a shortage of potatoes. “Prices are high and are around €250 per tonnes. Growers can’t control this, and the Belgian situation is completely different from the Dutch one. The Netherlands has more options to irrigate than Belgium. Another option is supplying water, but that’s expensive and a hopeless task,” Bart continues. The harvest of early potatoes has just started, and late varieties will be harvested in September. “That will also be difficult. Because of the extreme heat, the sprout dormancy was interrupted, resulting in a worse storability. It will be a challenge to guarantee quality up to the end of the season.”

Sweet potatoes
Compared to the regular potato, sweet potatoes are well-suited to handle the heat. “The sweet potato is a tropical plant, and therefore handles the heat much better. Yet they needed a lot of water this season. The sweet potatoes are harvested late-September, and expectations are positive. Sweet potatoes gain in popularity every year. Many restaurants now have dishes with sweet potato, and TV chefs use them often as well. We’re hoping the sweet potato season can compensate for the regular potato season a bit this year,” Bart concludes.

For more information:
Bart Nemegheer
De Aardappelhoeve
Putterijstraat 7A
8700 Tielt Belgium
+32 (0)477 29 17 84

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