In the middle of October, farms had 194 million kilos of ware and food-industry potatoes in stock, of which ware potatoes accounted for 160 million kilos. There were two million kilos of potatoes less in stock than in autumn 2017, and the stock volume of ware potatoes decreased by 10 million kilos.
Summer 2018 did not offer any help to the challenging growing seasons. The heavy rainfall in 2017 changed to drought, forcing farmers to irrigate their fields. While irrigation increased production costs, part of the total potato yield suffered from draught.
“Drought was particularly harsh in the Southwest Finland, Satakunta and Tavastia Proper regions where yields were clearly lower than in the year before”, says Anna-Kaisa Jaakkonen, senior statistician at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
Finnish ware potatoes come from the Ostrobothnia region
This summer, the cultivation area of potatoes was 311 hectares smaller than in the previous year. The area decreased evenly in all ELY Centre regions. The highest decrease (40%) in the cultivation area of ware and food-industry potatoes was seen in the Northern Savonia region.
Then again, yields were higher than in the previous year in the main production areas in Ostrobothnia, i.e. in the areas of the ELY Centres of Southern Ostrobothnia, Ostrobothnia and Northern Ostrobothnia. In Northern Ostrobothnia, yields increased to 34 tons per hectare. In the whole of Finland, potato yields increased slightly from 30 tons per hectare in the year before to this year’s 31 tons per hectare. The three Ostrobothnian ELY Centre regions covered 120 million kilos, or 75%, of Finland’s total potato stocks.
“According to crop production statistics at the end of August, Luke estimates that the total potato yield will decrease by 18%. However, additional yields this autumn adjusted the estimate upwards and, in particular, larger tubers increased yields”, Jaakkonen says.
High-quality ware potatoes
The dry summer produced high-quality potatoes. Of course, scabs and large tubers increase sorting losses, and the warm autumn will cause problems with cooling in stocks. This autumn’s ware potato volume also offers opportunities for sales in Europe, as European yields are expected to be low, while prices are higher than in Finland. In September, the producer price of ware potatoes was EUR 18.70 per 100 kilos in Finland, being lower than in September 2017 when the price was EUR 19.14 per 100 kilos.
Fewer potato farms
The stock survey was targeted at farms growing ware and food-industry potatoes, whose cultivation area is at least five hectares.
These kinds of farms numbered 461, and their combined ware and food-industry potato cultivation area amounted to 10,470 hectares. Compared with the previous year, the number of farms decreased by 14 farms, or 3%. The cultivation area decreased by 411 hectares, or 4%. The average ware and food-industry potato cultivation area was 23 hectares per farm. Half of these farms are included in the statistics. The response rate was high at 90%.