Overview Belgian potato sector

Belgium: Potato yield, size and EPS are the lowest in the last 4 harvests

Compared to the average of the last 3 years, all the criteria for the belgian potato harvest (yield, size and EPS) this year are the lowest recorded in the last 4 harvests.

On October 03 and completed harvests: 144 days of cultivation in Bintje and 141 days in Fontane.
- Gross average yield (35 mm+) : Bintje 33,8 t/ha; Fontane 39,5 t/ha; Innovator 36,4 t/ha; Challenger 42,0 t/ha; big differences between (sub)regions and plots;
- Performance losses (gross and net) well above 30% (compared to the average of the last 5 years) in Wallonia, in Bintje and Fontane;
- EPS weak and loose / problems with glassiness in Bintje;
- Average size insufficient in Bintje, weak in Challenger, correct in Fontane and Innovator.

A final sampling took place on October 02 and 03, on plots that were not yet cleared by 17 September; 7 plots out of the 18 reference fields.
Gross average yield (35 mm+) increased by one ton to 33,8 t/ha, with a big difference between Wallonia (29,7 t/ha) and Flanders (37,9 t/ha). The yield varies from single to triple between the worst and best Belgian plot. The average friable size is only 55% (also varying very strongly between 14% and 72%); that’s 19,4 t/ha! More than 60% of the plots remain below the norm of 60% of 50 mm +. But it’s the EPS that poses the main qualitative problem: settling on an average of 356 g/5 kg, raning from 308 to 415 g/5 kg. Half of the plots are below 360 g / 5 kg. Loose ones rose to an average of 7 %. More than 7 plots out of 10 show it. 4 plots out of 18 (all in Flanders) show more than 15% looseness at 1.060 g/L, and more than 5% at 1.040 g/L. Their EPS varies between 308 g and 336 g/5 kg before salt bath, they have 10% to 25% glassy ends, and 40% to 55% heterogeneous fries during cooking. These plots are not conservable, and are currently difficult to find. They still plague the future of Bintje in Belgium. The echoes of the terrain in Wallonia indicate such plots in Western Hainaut, but also in various subregions of the other Walloon provinces, as the heterogeneity is large this year.

However, the 2018 harvest shows but a few deformed, cracked, green, or rotten ones (less than 2%). If this potato tare and the loose ones are deducted, the average net yield (35 mm +) is 30.8 t/ha (ranging from 11.5 t/ha to 50.1 t/ha).

Globally, the frying index isn’t bad(average index of 2,42). Nevertheless, 5 plots (out of 18) are already at more than 2.50, glassy ends are observed on on 7 plots, and heterogeneous fries on 11 plots.

Compared to the average of the last 15 years, the 2018 Belgian yield is of the order of 12 t / ha lower (ie 26%). In Wallonia, the gross yield loss is around 35%, and the net return loss is even higher. Size and EPS are by far the weakest of the last 5 years.

Fontane limited the damage despite the very adverse growing conditions. Its average gross yield is estimated at 39.5 t/ha for all 27 Belgian reference plots, but with a huge variation between (sub)regions and plots which leads to the observed minimum of 14 t/ha, and a maximum at 64 t/ha! Here too, a clear difference is noted between the North of the country (43.0 t/ha) and the South of the country (34.5 t/ha). Fontane obtains a correct average size at 75% of 50 mm+, ie 31 t/ha, with 4 plots in default compared to the norm of 60%. Its EPS is also acceptable, with a Belgian average of 403 g/5 kg, ranging from 348 g to 473 g/5 kg. Only 3 plots (out of 27 or; less than 10%) do not reach the standard of 360 g / 5 kg. Loose ones at 1.060 g/L are observed considerably (> 5%) on only 2 plots, while no loose ones were found at 1.040 g/L. The roast color is excellent (average index of 1.58, with 1 single batch beyond 2.00), without glassy ends, and with few heterogeneous chips, except for a plot with 25% non-homogeneous fries.

Compared to the average of the last 5 years, Fontane reaches 14 t/ha less gross yield this year; a loss of around 26% for the whole of Belgium. Walloon plots have a yield of nearly 18 t/ha lower than “normal"; a decrease of 32%. The size is small (10% of 50 mm+ less than normal), but nevertheless higher than 2016. The average PES this year is consistent with the norm, but with greater variation between plots.

Innovator in Wallonia
Only 6 reference plots (1 irrigated), all in Wallonia. We will be careful with the use of numbers. Innovator only reaches 36,4 t/ha gross yield, varrying from 26 t/ha to 60 t/ha. Echoes of the field regularly mention a yield of about 32 t/ha.

On the monitored reference plots, size remained halted at 76% for 50 mm+ (28,3 t/ha). The average EPS is correct (384 g/5 kg), but it varies widely between 319 g and 421 g/5 kg. Innovator has almost no loose ones. The roast color is excellent, with an average index of 1.13, ranging from 1.00 to 1.75 without glassy ends or heterogeneous fries.

Compared to the average of the last 5 years, Innovator has a gross yield delay of 14 t/ha, or 28%. The EPS is sufficient, nothing more, while the size is well below normal.

Challenger in Flanders
Results of 8 reference plots in Flanders: Challenger has an average gross yield of only 42 t/ha, of which 76% is 50 mm+ (32 t/ha), and an EPS of 400 g/5 kg. The gross yield (35 mm+) varies greatly (almost double). All monitored plots reach the standard of 60% for 50 mm+, while only one plot (out of 8) remains below 360 g/5 kg of EPS (this plot shows 20% looseness, at 1.060 g/L).

More than half of the monitored plots were not yet cleared, and their average senescence rate was estimated at less than 50%. Growth potential therefore remains, probably limited by short days and cool nights.

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