Paises Bajos: Dutch potato farmers sound alarm over harvest deadline
Dutch potato growers are facing a dilemma this September because their crop is too small to dig up ahead of the October 1 deadline, RTL Nieuws reported on Friday.
Farmers working on sandy soil must have harvested their potato crop by the end of the month under EU rules. If they don’t hit the target, they will be allowed to use less manure as a fertilizer next year.
From 2023, potatoes grown on sandy soil must be harvested by October 1 to prevent harmful nitrates and nitrogen compounds from entering the groundwater, in line with a European directive.
The directive states that ‘catch crops’ – fast-growing intermediate crops which absorb nitrogen compounds – must be planted by that date.
However, the cold, wet spring meant that many farmers did not plant out their seed potatoes until late May, rather than late April. “From the time that the first shoots emerge, a potato plant needs 100 days to fully ripen,” potato farmer Bert Merx told the broadcaster.
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Merx said he would not be dictated to by a calendar. “We depend on the weather and every year is different,” he said.
The measure affects around half the 80,000 hectares of land where potatoes are currently grown in the Netherlands, the AD said earlier this year. The Netherlands has some 3,000 potato growers producing four billion kilos of potatoes for the processing industry each year.