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Georg Kolmhofer of Sesur on the start of the harvest in Seville:

"Initial forecasts point to an early but manageable early potato harvest"

The precarious water situation in Southern Spain has had a firm grip on early potato cultivation for several years now. Initial forecasts for this year also anticipate a slight reduction in cultivation area compared to last year. Nonetheless, planting generally took place under good conditions. At the beginning of December, there was enough rainfall to appropriately carry out soil preparation, and a large portion of the fields were planted. Between February 8-10, there were substantial rains, which led to flooding of some fields and delayed the remaining planting. Subsequent periods saw sporadic but valuable rainfall. However, heavy rains and gusts during Holy Week, followed by a temperature rise to 25-30ºC, resulted in an increase in disease pressure in many areas," says Georg Kolmhofer, an early potato exporter based in Sevilla.

Georg Kolmhofer at this year's Potato Evening in Berlin. The native Austrian has lived and worked in Sevilla for 20 years now. From 35,000 hectares originally, the Andalusian potato cultivation area has since reduced to just a fraction.

Demand increase expected in June
The export of early potatoes to Germany is expected to pick up relatively early this year. Small specialty programs might start as early as the end of April. By week 20, the main harvest should be ready for delivery. All in all, according to Kolmhofer, there will be a rather modest harvest volume. "Many crops are damaged, there's also disease pressure, and the tuber sets are in some cases quite poor. Principally, rainy springs are not high-yield years, especially in early production."

A glimpse into the early potato cultivation in southern Spain

Specifically in France, due to the depleted market, there's a high demand for waxy potato varieties. According to the circumstances, prices are expected to be high again, slightly above the level of last year. The ongoing rainfall has also pushed back planting dates in the early cultivation areas of Germany, which means the main volume will be harvested later. Kolmhofer: "Accordingly, we expect a gap in the potato market supply and a rising demand for early potatoes by mid to late June."

Andalusian early potatoes of the Annabelle variety

German market loses significance
The German market has tended to lose significance in recent years, Kolmhofer continues. "Generally, we observe that Spanish early potatoes are no longer seen as bulk movers but rather as products for premium programs. This is partly due to the water issue, but also due to the reluctance of retail buyers to include Southern European early potatoes in their programs. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues to solidify."

Images: Sesur

More information:
Georg Kolmhofer
SESUR Semilla y Exportación SLU
Apdo. de correos 20.008
41020 Sevilla - Spain
T: +34 954 610012
F: +34 954 303051
[email protected]

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