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Joop de Hoog, Friskom

Dutch cucumber season shorter and shorter

After a bad period, prices of Spanish cucumbers have gone up again in recent weeks. With prices of around 40 to 45 cents a kilo, things aren't going bad. The cause is the disappointing production. With the Dutch season coming up again, the question is also how the rest of the season will develop.

Early this month, there was talk of a possible cucumber shortage in the run-up to Christmas. The high temperatures and the coming rain would cause scarcity. And prices are indeed not bad: around 40 to 45 cents per kilo. "That means you have around eighteen cents each. A good price? Not even really extreme," thinks Joop de Hoog of Friskom. "But not bad. The big question is how long this will last." That's hard to estimate, De Hoog explains. "Just like in February – they say it's over, and suddenly, two to three weeks later, you don't know where everything is coming from. They also don't harvest three times a week as a rule, but only when they see cucumbers hanging. That makes estimations for the season difficult." In addition, Spain is certainly making progress in cultivation, but the weather is still very influential. "Keeping the greenhouses dry is key. Rain causes downy mildew. Production won't be great in that case."

Does this provide room for Dutch cucumbers? This year, in Dutch cultivation, unilluminated cultivation is seen to shift. "There are a few die-hards, who have already planted, but many growers have postponed the planting date. Energy is playing a part. The gas price has gone down though: roughly 5 cents per m3. But prices for the first cucumbers weren't very good either in recent years. Most of them will get the plants between January 5 and 15." That means the season in which Dutch revenue has to be earned, keeps shrinking. "In recent years, it's over and done with prices in mid-October. The season is getting shorter and shorter." Possibilities like illumination also hardly provide room to escape that. "Those come around the tenth, perhaps a little sooner. But the supermarkets won't pay more for illuminated Dutch produce than for Spanish cucumbers. It's possible that speciality stores are prepared too. In any case, the illuminated acreage remains roughly equal this year as well." The unilluminated acreage isn't changing that much either. "Twenty hectares are still hanging. Apart from that, it's not changing a lot."

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