Dec 12, 2018
Potato harvest in UK, continental Europe facing sharp decline

Potato growers in Europe did not have a good year, thanks to unusually dry weather.

A recent estimate for the UK harvest from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has production down there 13 percent from a five-year average. The drop figures to be a combination of a 4.4-percent reduction in area planted, but more so, because of a 12-percent drop in average yield.

Rob Clayton, Sector Strategy Director at AHDB Potatoes, pointed to the hot, dry weather as the major factor.

“Growers were battling a shortage of water this year. … The combined June and July period was one of the driest on record,” Clayton said. “Fields that were irrigated will have enjoyed a reasonable crop, while in others yields were very low.”

Irrigation was available to barely half of the land planted with potatoes the UK, according to AHDB. Clayton added he doesn’t think the UK will face a shortage, but not the same quality. “Consumers will notice is a wider range of shapes and sizes in the bag they bring home,” he said.

The UK ranks in the top 10 in raw and processed potato exports.

Northwestern European, Canadian potato harvest also hurt

Things are even worse in northwestern Europe, specifically Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The four-country region accounts for roughly half of all exported potatoes, raw and processed, in the world.

Harvests are down in those countries in the range of 20 percent from the five-year average. The range of the drop varies by region, according to the North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG).

The German harvest of 8.7 million tons is a record low and drop of more than 20 percent from last year, According to the German Association of Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Processing (BOGK). In addition, the yield of potatoes for processing is down 25 to 30 percent.

Canada’s harvest also was hurt by weather. However, it wasn’t dry conditions, but overly wet ones.

In Prince Edward Island and Manitoba, unseasonably wet weather during the harvest led to 15,000 acres being abandoned. It was a loss of about 4.4 percent of the crop.

For more news on the 2018 harvest, both in the U.S. and aboard, click here.

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