"My father always said: Every day is a new page in the book of the onion trade. No two days are the same. And many things go differently than you pictured them. This year is no exception", says Piet van Liere of Flevotrade Dronten. In this interview he sums up the season from the growing season to the current export.
"It was another special growing season. In the spring it was extremely dry and that meant that sowing has never been more difficult than this spring. Especially on the heavy soils it took a lot of effort to get a decent seed bed. This then resulted in a very poor turnout, although that differed greatly per plot. We have never had so many stages in an onion as this spring," Piet reflects.
"Thankfully, we still got rain after that huge drought, otherwise the yield would have been truly disastrous. The seeds did germinate very late this year. People sometimes say 'an onion in May becomes a leek', but that has certainly been true this year, as the weather conditions have led to many stunted onions, which you cannot do anything with. In addition, we also had to deal with an awful lot of growth disorders due to the mediocre structure and the deteriorating water quality, as there was a lot of irrigation done with salt water. There were plots this year that did not want to grow at all, more so than in other years. "
"Yields have never been more variable than this year. There are areas with very good yields, but there are also those that I think will be ploughed over. Yields vary between 0 and 100 tonnes," continues Piet. "The light soils generally still gave good yields, but on the heavy plots this was often not the case. The very short duration of the spring means that the yields will not be favourable. The onion sets have still given reasonable kilos, but the size of the seed onions is very disappointing."
"The quality problems are also increasing. Fusarium, tears; the quality is a really big issue this year and that all has to do with the growth and soil structure. What is being harvested at the moment does not look bad, although it is still wet in certain growing areas. I expect the total export volume will be quite disappointing this year! However, the comparison with two years ago that many people are making is incorrect in my opinion. Back then there was a global drought, this year that is not the case."
Africa, Far East, Brazil
"In terms of export, the start of the season went very well. In the first weeks 114,000 tonnes of onions have already been exported, over than 7,000 tonnes more than last year. Although the export volume this year will be a lot less, we are already ahead of ourselves. Africa is leading the way, but there are also quite a few onions going to the Far East and our Brazilian friends are also on the market. These are not yet concrete orders, but there is a good reason for the interest. "
"Furthermore, we see the same picture in Poland as in the Netherlands. The early segment has not been disappointing at all, but there will also be problems with the main harvest in terms of volumes and quality. Last year, of course, an enormous volume was exported to Poland and this year once again they are already knocking at our door. With the aforementioned quality problems that we have, the Polish demand may well give a very nice lower limit in the market and we can certainly use that today. All in all, there are wonderful opportunities available for this season," Piet concludes.