Castile and Leon's 2021 potato campaign started with a slightly lower area than what was expected in January, and a slight increase in plantings of varieties destined for washing. "Nearly 75% of the potatoes in Castile and Leon have already been planted, which amounts to almost all of the production of provinces such as Valladolid, Segovia, Avila, and Salamanca," stated Eduardo Arroyo, the president of the Association of Potato Producers of Castile and Leon.
Producers planted the potatoes earlier than usual, a trend in recent years, to avoid competing with the potatoes that arrive from France in September. However, the advance of the sowings implies a greater risk of being affected by frosts, like the ones there have been this April.
Yolanda Medina, the president of Castile and Leon's Potato Interprofessional, said the frosts affected the earliest sown potatoes. Fortunately, she added, the frost mainly affected the leaves and didn't affect the roots much. This means the plants will recover and that this event won't have a strong effect on the quality or production.
Despite the good prospects generated by the start of the campaign, this year the potato sector will face problems to preserve the tubers, after the change in European regulations on permitted substances.
“Producers from Castile and Leon sell their potatoes between July and October. A good part of the production is preserved to be released weeks or months after the start of the season. Now, we are going to have a serious problem storing the production. We still don't know how we'll manage to do it," Medina stated.
“We have to find an efficient solution to this situation, we must see it as an opportunity for the new potato. Consumers are increasingly buying fewer potatoes for storage varieties, so the sector has to continue advancing in its commitment to new potatoes. Some areas are already working on achieving two harvests a year," stated Juan Manuel Coello, the operations director of Patatas Melendez.