Shortage of rainfall in Belgium in 2017-2018 and 2019.
When inquiring for prices of products of the agro-industry, people are wondered why we always put ‘lack of rainfall’ forward as one of the main reasons for uninterrupted price increases.
Below you will see the lack of quantity of rainfall, when compared to the usual height of the water tabel (ground water) :
– 2017 : 220 liter/m² short
– 2018 : 350 liter/m² short
– 2019 : 300 liter/m² short
Perhaps the private consumer will not like to hear it, but we definitely needs lots of rain in the months to come, so that nature can recuperate.
Situation update as to new season main crop fresh potatoes
With scattered rainfall in week commencing 12th of August, hope on normalisation of new crop lived up again. However since August 22nd
|the heat came back and leaves many spurs of uncertainty throughout Europe.|
|The liftings of early season varieties are nearly over and the industry has made the switch to semi-late varieties, prior to starting main season’s|
|crop (potatoes for conservation) at the end of August, first days of September. Harvesting should end (in function of local weather and soil|
|conditions) around the end of October and before the first night frost comes up.|
|Whereas in June 2018 it was clear that the entire potato harvest all over Europe would be a disaster, this year the situation is a lot more|
|complicated. There are differences per country, per region, per village, yet even per farm. This has everything to do with the irregular local|
|rainfall or to an even higher extent the lack of it.|
|Also the type of soil plays a role, with very poor results on sandy soils.|
|After the dramatic situation in 2018, plenty of farmers had massively invested in irrigation equipment, but the widely spread official ban on|
|pumping ground waters curtailed the plans and considerably hit the expected yields in Flanders, North of France and parts of Central Germany.|
|The higher acreage may partly compensate for the loss of yield per hectare, but this will only become clear once the harvest is completed all|
|Test liftings made in Belgium after 111 days of growth show following figures :|
|Bintje variety :||estimated 34 tons per hectare, which is 4 tons per hectare below the 10-years average|
|regrowth on all 17 test fields|
|Fontane variety :||estimated 43 tons per hectare in Flanders against 34 tons per hectare in Wallonia, the latter could be caused|
|by later planting. The figures would be close to the past 5-years average, on condition the yield per hectare in|
|Wallonia keeps growing in the weeks to follow to catch up for the backlog.|
|No regrowth found.|
|Bearing in mind the above, it remains very difficult to forecast the general outcome in North-Western Europe. After 3-4 weeks of liftings, more|
|reliable figures should become available by the end of September.|
|Prices have come down when compared to season 2018/19, but the overall expected price collapse is out of question. It does not look like price|
|levels of harvest season 2017/18 will even come near.|
First bits of information as to new season fresh potatoes in Belgium...
According to the Flemish Marketing Center for Agriculture and Fisheries (VLAM), the acreage of fresh potatoes in the northern part of Belgium (Flanders) has increased by over 8% to well above 55.000 hectares.
The total surface in potatoes in Belgium would reach 100.000 hectaes this season (2019/20).
What this will mean in terms of total output is still a question mark. The soil conditions are not perfect, as the consequences of the heavy draught of last summer can still be felt (very low water table) and unless the months of May and June give unexpectedly many days of rain, a lot of irrigation will be needed to ascertain normal harvest results.
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