Crop report 2021 and BMEL arable crop strategy:

German potato harvest could reach 2020 harvest volumes

In its monthly yield forecast, the EU Commission's Joint Research Center indicates an expected hectare day for Germany that would exceed the previous year's level by 4.6% and surpass the high yield level of neighboring potato-producing countries Belgium and the Netherlands. If this yield level can be realized, the crop could almost match the result of the 2020 potato harvest, which was 11.7 million tons.

According to the preliminary results of the main land use survey, about 259,300 hectares were planted with potatoes this year, representing 2.2% of arable land. Compared to the previous year, the area under cultivation was reduced by 5.2%; however, compared to the six-year average, there is still an increase in area of almost 2%.

Servicing trade orders was difficult in view of the persistently unsettled weather. Particularly in the south and west, wet conditions led to harvest hindrances as fields were impassable. In the second half of July, growing conditions for potato crops continued to be completely contrasting between the northeast and southwest halves. Persistent wetness increased late blight pressure, which posed major problems, especially for organic crops.

In terms of consumer demand, the Corona effect, which is the increase in household purchases of table potatoes due to limited out-of-home consumption options, continued in the early months of the year. From February 2020 to March 2021, potato purchases exceeded the level of the respective month of the previous year in each case, in some cases by a good quarter. This trend ended in April 2021, with demand in June 2021 down 10.7% year-on-year in line with the easing of pandemic control measures.

Producer prices
At around EUR 69 per decitonne, producer prices for early potatoes at the start of the season were slightly below last year's level of around EUR 72, but remained more stable than last year due to significantly lower grub volumes. From mid-June onward, prices were consistently above the previous year's level. On August 10, prices still averaged almost EUR 30 per decitonne, an increase of 29% year-on-year. In the 33rd calendar week, the producer price for firm-cooking varieties averaged EUR 26.25 per decitonne in Germany, 32% above last year's level.

The price trend on the Leipzig European Energy Exchange reflects further harvest expectations for the processing potato segment. The minimum size of trading contracts is 25 tons; quotations are based on a decitonne. Starting from a price of just under EUR 15 at the beginning of the year, the quotation reached a temporary peak of EUR 19.50 on June 9, 2021, before falling back to around EUR 16 in the following four weeks. On August 20, 2021, the closing price for the April contract was EUR 17.50 per ton.

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