Potato farmers in Lower Saxony, Germany, start the potato harvest with expectations of an average yield. After a difficult growing period with a lot of rain, farmers now have to cope with heat and drought. “With this hot weather, potatoes are too warm to store immediately,” states Thorsten Riggert of Landvolk in Lower Saxony. The quality of the harvest is good and the expected yield is average, just as the grain harvest. The surface area of 102,400 hectares used to cultivate potatoes in Lower Saxony has decreased slightly compared to the previous year. This is the case for both consumer potatoes and processing potatoes in different regions of this German state. In 2015 potatoes were cultivated on an area of 105,900 hectares. In the whole of Germany the acreage for potato cultivation decreased by 0.6% to 235,500 hectares. Farmers had to irrigate the crops during the dry period in the past few weeks and the cost of the irrigation is considerable.
Organic farmers have to deal with clearly reduced expectations at the start of the harvest. The wet summer and the dreaded late blight, or potato blight, left their mark on the potato fields and the weakened crops also suffered from the hot weather that followed.
The Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (Agricultural Market Information Company, AMI) in Bonn sees commercial possibilities in the potato processing industry – in other words, for manufacturers of products such as French fries, chips, potato flakes or potato salad. They have to deal with a shortage of the main ingredient, due to the weather, so they order more potatoes than they initially contracted. Especially potato processing companies in Belgium and Northern France have had to order more potatoes.
The official harvest estimates will be presented at the International Potato Fair in Hamburg on the 21st of September. It is the 65th time that the German Potato Trade Association has organised this trade fair.