Potatoes are, according to Sannong Zhongguo, the fourth-largest staple food in China. There are four major production areas, the one in the north includes four north-eastern provinces (Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, and Xinjiang), as well as the northern part of Hebei, the northern part of Shanxi, and the north-western part of Shaanxi. This production area accounts for half the overall surface area devoted to potato plantation in China. The potato harvest season was over in most production areas by the last week of October, although the north of Shaanxi, Gansu, and Ningxia was still finishing up.
Data shows that the overall surface area devoted to potato plantation decreased in 2018, and the production volume per hectare also decreased. The potato production volume reached 23.95 million tons, which is 5.83 million tons less than in 2017, or a decrease of 19.58%.
Production areas in Gansu and Ningxia experienced relatively heavy rainfall this year, but they also suffered from quite severe potato blight. Original estimates in August predicted an increased production volume, but those predictions have changed to a decrease in production volume. This was quite clear at the beginning of the potato harvest in Gansu and Ningxia, which began 15-20 days earlier than last year. The volume of potatoes that enters storage also decreased this year, with conservative estimates predicting a decrease of 30% and other estimates going as high as 50%.
As for the price, there is a divergence between potato prices in Shandong and production areas in north China. The price of potatoes in Shandong slightly decreased, while the price of potatoes purchased for storage in north China slightly decreased. However, the price-quality ratio in the north is still better than in Shandong, which puts additional pressure on potatoes in Shandong.