The North-western European Potato growers (NEPG) expect the combined potato acreage in Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Great Britain to be 552,000 hectares (1.36 million acres).
This is an increase of 4.9 percent compared to last year and 3.5 percent over the 5 year running average.
Acreage used to grow seed potatoes or potatoes for starch production are not included in these numbers.
The largest increase in potato acreage is in Belgium, where the acreage increased by 12.4%.
Planting in the United Kingdom was late this year and as a result the official data for Great Britain will be released early July.
The expansion in acreage is lowest in the Netherlands, This is probably the result of the strong expansion of the acreage of sugar beets (+20%)
Actual vs l.y.
The acreage of potatoes in North-western Europe - excluding seed and starch potatoes. UK data preliminary.
(Source: North-western European Potato Growers: NEPG ; 2016)
With the exception of the United Kingdom, all NEPG countries suffered from flooding recently. Excessive rain and hail storms caused locally significant damage. Especially after the thunderstorms in the last few weeks in certain areas, 10-20% and more of the crop should be considered lost.
The NEPG is of the opinion that so far at least 1 percent of the total acreage has been lost. Most damage occurred in Belgium and certain parts of the Netherlands, resulting in at least 3 percent of the potato acreage.
Apart from the final loss, a potential loss in quality due to rot, green and diseases should be taken into account.
The German harvest is not entirely free of damage due to flooding, but damage is considerably less excessive. In addition, planting in Germany was more or less on time, this in contrast with all other NEPG countries, where a potato harvest later than normal is still the expectation.
The NEPG is careful with predictions on diseases during and after the excessive rains.
Potato farmers will have to step up crop protection - wherever that is possible - increasing the input costs of the crop. Many growers are still unable to apply crop spraying due to the inundated fields.
In areas unaffected by flooding, the potato crop is growing very well.
Within the next three weeks the first potatoes for processing will be harvested in Germany if the weather permits and the tuber dry matter is high enough. Belgium is expected to follow about 1-2 weeks later.
Tuber sampling in Germany has revealed a normal tuber count and a weight in water that is still low (290 - 320 grams). The early processing harvest for Belgium shows large variations in yield and quality depending on location.
Solid demand for processed potatoes
The NEPG finds a growth of the total acreage of 3.5 percent acceptable considering the aforementioned losses and the fact that potato processing in all NEPG countries has increased. The demand for processed product is growing every year and especially export to countries outside the European Union is increasing.
Demand for processed product increases annually and is especially fueled by export to countries outside the European Union.
The NEPG concludes that the yield per hectare will be the critical factor that determines the total production, which will be strongly influenced by weather and growing conditions in July and August. It is still far to early to make predictions on this point.