Alemania: ’Problematic weather not really impacting potato growth’
Despite the long dry spell and the subsequent rainfall of the last week of May there is no panic on northern potato fields.
On the Lüneburg Heath, by far the largest growing area of German potato production, the modern irrigation systems had already been at work for several weeks, and Volker Peters, Managing Director of Helle Niedersachsen Raiffeisen Kartoffel GmbH, doesn’t think there will be any effects on the upcoming potato season. “What is important, is what will happen mid- June.”
Problems with vegetation
’In Lower Saxony we currently have extreme problems with the dry weather. That has no consequences for the growth of our potatoes, at least not a the present. If the dry weather persists throughout June and July, we will indeed have substantial problems with our vegetation,” says Peters. In the Lüneburg Heath, about 95 percent of the fields are being irrigated at the moment. But on the other side of the Elbe, in the Eastern German states, these irrigation systems are not available.
According to Peters, the problematic weather can lead to reduced yields, certainly in the so-called Oversize segment (65+). Apart from this, it is still too early to predict the upcoming harvest season. “This weather even has its advantages: from the 2017 harvest, we had seedlings that were very susceptible to Fusarium and blight. Due to the warm weather, almost all potatoes germinated extremely well. There were hardly any germination problems.”
At the same time, the last consumption potatoes from last year’s season were taken from the Lower Saxony cold stores, after which the sales window for imported goods (mainly from Spain) opened up. Starting from week 25 to 26 thing will get going with large quantities of native tubers.
Peters: “We’ve been at it for two weeks already,
either with bagged or unbagged potatoes from the Uetze/Burgdorf region. This is really aimed at the northern wholesale markets and the complementary export business to Scandinavia.”
Current prices for the normal new potatoes (35-65 mm) are at satisfactory levels. “Last year the market situation was clearly worse at the beginning of the season. Then, the flow of imported goods led to too much products in the market and the sales were low, while prices were under pressure. But currently we are expecting a more normal market situation.”
Northern sales organization
The Helle Niedersachsen Raiffeisen Kartoffel GmbH is the sales organization of the primary cooperatives for potatoes and onions in the Lüneburg Heath area. Its total acreage would amount to more than 30,000 hectares. The marketing company then sells the goods as a wholesaler to packing and processing companies, who in turn service the food retail trade and ultimately the end consumer. After completing the harvest, the GmbH has modern storage and cooling facilities at its disposal for the long-term storage of its goods. This ensures delivery of high-quality goods until the very end of the marketing season, to all parties involved.