Potatoes: smallest crop for ten years

28/06/2004 09:30

According to Statistics Netherlands’ definite crop estimate, the production of potatoes was substantially lower last year than in 2002. The total potato crop was 6.5 billion kilos in 2003, one eighth lower than in 2002. Arable farmers lifted less than 41 thousand kilos per hectare in 2003. This is the lowest yield in ten years and was caused by the dry summer in combination with a reduction in the total area on which potatoes are grown.

Farmers grow fewer table potatoes

The crop of table potatoes, potatoes intended for human consumption, was more than 18 percent smaller in 2003 than in 2002. This is the consequence of both a smaller area on which these potatoes are gown and a lower yield per hectare. Potato growers lifted an average 46 thousand kilos of table potatoes per hectare, one tenth less than in 2002. The total crop was 3.2 billion kilos.

The number of seed potatoes lifted did increase in 2003: total production rose by 5 percent to 1.4 billion kilos.

Production of processing potatoes - potatoes grown for their starch, which is used for a variety of industrial products - was very low in 2003. Both total production and yield per hectare were the lowest for ten years. One hectare yielded on average only 37 thousand kilos of processing potatoes, compared with more than 42 thousand kilos in the period 1994-2002.

Lower crops across EU

The Netherlands was not the only country where the potato crop was substantially lower. The same was true in the other member countries of the EU. Total potato production in the EU-25 was 12 percent lower last year than in 2002. In Byelorussia, Russia and Ukraine, on the other hand, potato crops were considerably higher than in 2002. After Poland and Germany, the Netherlands is the third largest producer of potatoes in the new EU, and ninth in the world.

Sugar beet and onions

For sugar beet 2003 was a favourable year. The reduction in the total area devoted to sugar beet was compensated by a higher yield per hectare. This put total production at the same level as in 2002. For sowing onions this was the other way around. In spite of a considerable increase in the area of sowing onions grown, the production was lower than in 2002.The area of sowing onions has been increased by more than half since 1998. The yield per hectare was one tenth lower than in 2002. Total production of sowing onions was 0.8 billion kilos.

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