Half of all German potatoes come from Lower Saxony
The potato harvest 2015 is over. Volker Peters, Managing Director of Helle Niedersachsen Raiffeisen Kartoffel GmbH, an associated company of AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG, provides his evaluation in an interview.
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What is the potato quality like this year, Mr Peters?
Peters: We have achieved an average to good potato harvest this year. The quality has not gone down and the entire potato market was able to be supplied well and promptly with products. Despite the high temperatures in the summer months, which especially led to weather-related vegetation residues on light soils, consistent yields were achieved in Lower Saxony. We mainly achieved this thanks to the high-performance sprinkler systems that water almost 95 percent of our farming areas. In Lower Saxony we were able to harvest approx. 5 million tonnes of potatoes - that is approximately half of the harvest volume across Germany.
Although the quality of potatoes has remained the same this year, there was a drop in the yields and crop area. Why was production reduced?
Peters: A clear differentiation must be made between the different federal states in the reduction of crop areas. The yields remained almost constant due to watering in Lower Saxony. However there was a significant decrease in North Rhine-Westphalia. 5000 fewer hectares were cultivated there in 2015 and the yields were far behind the previous year. In Baden-Württemberg there were also clear farming restrictions and less yields were achieved due to the change in weather from a cold spring to hot summer. The second largest potato land, Bavaria, had an expansive crop area. However, the yields only reached three quarters of that of the previous year due to the weather. In comparison with the previous year, potato farming in Germany has dropped by a total of 4 percent. The reduction in crop areas is due to the unsatisfactory producer prices in the 2015/2015 season. This means that fewer potatoes were planted in North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg this year.
Do the low producer prices also have an impact on the consumer prices for potatoes?
Peters: No, the impacts on the consumer prices are very low. We are talking about a few Cents for a 2.5 kilogram sack of potatoes. Consumers can currently buy them for 75 to 80 Cent per kilogram in supermarkets, which is not significantly different to the previous year. The consequences of the low regional yields are therefore only noticed by potato producers. Due to the lower harvest quantities in the other federal states, we in Lower Saxony started supplying potatoes much earlier.