Growing potatoes is like an outdoor sport – to be successful you need to prepare well but the weather will still play a huge part.
The potato harvest here has been at full speed. Growers worked up to it for the whole year - planting, fertilising, protecting and, ultimately, harvesting the crop. But the weather and competition from disease has hit performance. A cold spring led to poor emergence and now we are only achieving low yields. With futures of about €22.7/100kg for April 2017 it is an indication that yields are not high throughout Europe. Growers have also faced tough competition from disease. There has been a big struggle to overcome phytophthora.
But a recent trip to the Potato Demo event organised by the Dutch Potato Organisation (NAO) and Applied Plant Research (PPO) in Westmaas showed that the potato is a progressive sector.
Innovative equipment, new pesticides and new application techniques were on show. At our Adama stand we showed off the Cyclomatic and Resonator systems for vaporising and applying our own in-store sprout suppressant product ‘Talent’. Green issues were a focus at Westmaas and Talent drew a lot of interest because it is a product of natural origin. The visiting Director of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs Robert van Brouwershaven said he was very impressed with our role in the plant protection industry.
So now Adama is training hard for next season. Results will be re-evaluated, open days visited and winter presentations prepared. We have a new year again and new challenges. With fewer active ingredients, due to legislation, we still aim to achieve better results for growers. Like a competitive athlete each year we want to be better and faster.
The seed potato harvest has been going well. The variety Victoria is finished and harvested very well. Fortunately, the potatoes have dried quickly. However, silver scab control has been made more difficult because of the limitations on imazalil use - it has been another hurdle to overcome.
Another was the temperature at 30C during harvest which is not good for the quality of the potato. To get a head start we began work at 04:00 in the cool air and stopped around noon as the temperature rose. So, in short, while circumstances are important for the end result, if you prepare well and train hard those results will always be better!
Olaf van Campen is Adama’s Northern Europe Crop Manager for Potatoes and Sugarbeets. He joined Adama six years ago as development specialist in the N-Zone in Europe (Scandinavia and Baltics). Previously, having studied Agricultural Business Mangement, Olaf worked for HZPC, the biggest seed potato company in the world, based in Joure, Netherlands, where he was a sales/logistic representative for consumption potatoes in Europe. He then went on to work in the advisory service Delphy in the Netherlands, giving advice in arable crops like potatoes, sugarbeets, onions, carrots, cereals.