EUROPE – Prices for early potato crops in Europe are soaring as demand outstrips supply due to ongoing problems with the health and viability of potato seeds, with agronomists predicting the situation will worsen.

The demand for potatoes across Europe has surged, leading to exceptionally high prices. In France, exports of ware potatoes to the U.K. reached 12,019 tons by the end of April, a significant increase from the previous year’s 911 tons.

This surge in exports highlights the strong demand for potatoes, particularly in the U.K., where local production has struggled to keep pace.

Ireland is experiencing a similar trend. Potato demand remains robust for any new season crop fit for harvest, with only small quantities available at present.

The prices for these available potatoes are remarkably high, reflecting the scarcity of supply. The latest report from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) underscores the importance of not clearing fields at the expense of reduced yields, emphasizing that home-saved seed might negatively affect both yield and quality at harvest.

Germany continues to be the largest potato producer in the European Union, followed closely by Poland, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. These countries play a crucial role in meeting Europe’s demand for fresh and processed potatoes.

However, the current supply issues have placed pressure on these leading producers to meet the escalating demand.

Agronomists have pointed out that the emergence problems related to potato seeds are the primary cause of the supply issues. The health and viability of the seeds remain a significant concern, affecting subsequent plantings.

“The situation is only likely to get worse,” one agronomist noted, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by farmers.

The high demand and limited supply have significant implications for growers across Europe. The Teagasc newsletter this week reminded growers not to clear fields at the expense of reduced yields, given the significant demand for produce.

This caution is particularly relevant as the industry grapples with the challenges posed by the health of potato seeds.

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