Due to pronounced periods of drought and humidity, this year there will be no such record potato harvest as in previous years, according to TV3. Some of the potatoes are no longer suitable for trade.
“Due to weather conditions, the number of tubers is not as large as we would like,” said Aiga Kraukle, head of the board of the Union of Potato Growers and Processors.
Late blight this year is also more than before. According to the data of the Plant Protection Service, the worst situation is in Latgale, where 60% of the plantings are infected, and in some fields up to 90%. In Zemgale, the spread of late blight is estimated at 36%. This infection can cut crops in half.
“They are planting already infected potatoes. Then this fungal infection develops on the stem, spots appear on the leaves, and the tops turn black. When it rains, spores from the leaves fall into the soil, reach the tubers and also infect them, ”said service expert Evelina Freimane.
The price will not rise
The fact that this year's harvest will be worse than last does not mean that the price will be higher because of this, because local potato growers are in fierce competition with imported potatoes from Poland. Therefore, the price is dictated not by Latvian farmers, but by large purchasing bases.
“If you want to sell potatoes, they tell you the price. You need to sell for the price they buy for, ”said Kraukle.
She noted that large farms are reducing potato plantations.
The miracle of selection
Breeders are helping to fight a variety of diseases that threaten potatoes. For example, at least three new varieties are now available in Latvia that are not prone to late blight and other diseases.
“We can say that this is the third year when you can choose something. New generations of potatoes are quite fruitful and protected from late blight, ”said the owner of the Kalnares farm Ilgvars Krumins.
However, selection does not protect from Colorado beetles.
“I won't say that all fields are affected, but much more than in previous years,” said Kraukle.
At the same time, there are fewer opportunities to fight beetles, because the European Union is gradually banning the use of certain substances for treating plants, and the available alternatives are ineffective.