In what period is it better to buy seed potatoes for planting in the new season?
Of course, each enterprise determines the optimal terms in its own way, based on its tasks and capabilities. But, as a rule, there are always buyers who delay this moment until March and even until April, and there are many of them: the phones of seed companies in early spring become red-hot.
SELL SEED POTATOES?
This year, demand for their products has been noted by many well-known seed producers and suppliers since the summer. Some companies managed to find buyers for grown almost before the start of harvesting. What is the reason for this and should we expect a shortage in the market?
SEEDS FROM EUROPE
Let's start with the most acute part of the topic: the supply of seed from Europe. This year, plans for its purchase for many Russian enterprises were significantly corrected by a severe drought that affected almost all countries involved in potato seed production, including key seed suppliers to Russia: the Netherlands, Finland and Germany (certain regions). According to various sources, the seed growers of these countries received less than 20-30% of the estimated production volumes.
In this regard, producers were forced to seriously reduce the number of seed lots destined for the countries - buyers. It is difficult to determine what specific figures this reduction will result in for Russia (at the end of October 2018). Recall: by the beginning of summer 2018, about 14 and a half tons of seed potatoes were imported to Russia, of which more than 12 tons were from the EU countries. Today, some supplying companies expect supply volumes to be cut by three quarters.
Accordingly, a number of companies have already announced an increase in prices for seed potatoes of foreign production. Some - about the very essential. It is worth noting that manufacturers include in the new cost of European products not only compensation for losses from lost products, but also, for example, the cost of fuels and lubricants, which sharply increased this year.
At the same time, almost all suppliers of European seed potatoes (among those surveyed by the magazine) noted that by the beginning of autumn they had applications from Russian agricultural enterprises for the purchase of seed material in an amount that obviously exceeded the volume of possible supplies. In other words, not everyone will be able to purchase imported seed potatoes of certain varieties this year.
However, some Russian agricultural holdings stated that they decided to refuse to purchase seed material for the 2018 season from abroad, fearing that seeds grown in difficult weather conditions may have quality problems.
SEED POTATO OF RUSSIAN PRODUCTION
But the bulk of the seed material (of the total 900 thousand tons planted annually in the country) is still potatoes grown in Russia. What can be said about him?
This year, seed farms in most regions of the country also faced weather difficulties. A prolonged cold spring contributed to the active spread of Rhizoctonia. A hot, dry summer led to a decrease in tuber formation; a shortage of tubers was noted in the farms of the main seed-growing territories, both in the North-West and in Central Russia. An equally dry autumn gave farmers an exam on their ability to harvest in hard rocky soil. Not everyone deserved positive marks: in many farms, a large volume of potatoes received mechanical damage, which means that storage problems can be predicted.
Of course, today, when harvesting has just been completed, it is premature to judge the quality and quantity of seed potatoes on the market. The situation will become a little clearer by December, when responsible producers receive the results of studies of tubers for the presence of diseases; a more complete picture will develop in the spring, according to the results of storage, and the final verdict can be reached only at the end of the next season. Nevertheless, the above factors suggest that the volume of high-quality seed material on the market may be less than usual, and its prices are higher.
At the same time, the producers of domestic seed potatoes themselves do not believe that the situation on the market this year is fundamentally different from previous seasons and requires a special scheme of action. “There is no excitement,” says Anastasia Borovkova, head of the potato department at German Seed Alliance Russ, “We work in the usual autumn mode. As always, farms from the southern regions are already concluding contracts and paying for orders. Enterprises in Central Russia are still evaluating the harvesting results, determining how much seed they will need next year. "
Although no one denies that potatoes of the most popular varieties and the best quality are sold in the first place.
“The potatoes of the most popular varieties are always sorted out before the new year,” confirms Anastasia Borovkova, “this year, by the end of October, we have fully sold the volumes of the Russian-made Red Lady variety”.
“Anyone who wants to get good seeds should take care of them in advance,” says Oleg Martyshin, deputy director of the Slava Potato company, “we signed the first contracts for the supply of seed this year in August”.
And according to Vladimir Molyanov, General Director of Molyanov Agro Group LLC, buying now seed material for the 2019 season means working late, at this time you should think about the spring of 2020: “Producers who are seriously engaged in potato cultivation know in advance that on what area they will plant potatoes in a year, what varieties they will need. They leave an application to the seed company, inspect the plantings in the summer, and in the fall, if everything suits them, they buy out the necessary lots. This is the third year in a row that we have been registering the trend towards this way of doing business ”.
STATE COMMISSION: INTRODUCTION OF PAYED SERVICES
This issue does not directly relate to the topic of the article and, perhaps, so far it is mainly concerned with organizations engaged in breeding work or promoting the achievements of breeders. Nevertheless, in the near future, it may have a significant impact on the Russian seed market. We are talking about the Order of the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia dated August 31.08.2018, 143 No. XNUMX "On approval of the provision for the payment of services related to its main activities by the federal state budget institution" State Commission of the Russian Federation for the Testing and Protection of Breeding Achievements "."
The decision to introduce a fee for the services of the State Commission ”caused heated discussion in the professional community. At the same time, practically no one denies the need for this measure; many note that today the State Register of Breeding Achievements Allowed for Use includes a large number of varieties, and not all of them are in demand by consumers. The introduction of the fee will limit the number of people who want to apply for variety testing and reduce the exorbitant amount of work that falls on the staff of the State Commission for the Year. Although at the moment we are talking about amounts that can not only limit, but cut off a significant part of market participants.
According to Vladimir Molyanov, testing one type of potato in three regions will cost his company about 800 thousand rubles. But sometimes studies of the properties of varieties are carried out over several years. Not every breeding organization has such money, especially if it is a state institution.
But the main problem is not even the means. Experts say that the existing variety testing system in Russia needs serious reform.
Representatives of the National Association of Corn and Sunflower Seed Producers in a draft open letter to the Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation Dmitry Patrushev with a request to suspend Order No. 143 (the project is published on the website of the SRO NAPSKiP) noted: “Almost all industry participants note a mismatch in the organization of the variety testing process as a methodology its implementation, as well as modern (industrial) technologies for growing crops, which casts doubt on the results of state ortho tests ”.
Similar thoughts could be expressed by potato growers. Today, the buyer of seed, choosing a variety, almost does not take into account the results of variety testing, since the conditions for growing potatoes on the variety section and on the field of a particular farm often have little in common.
Changes are necessary, and work on the quality of service provision, from the perspective of the professional communities that entered into the discussion, should precede the introduction of a fee for it. The question is whether their opinion will be heard while it remains open.
Certain remarks are also caused by the procedure for making a decision on adding a variety to the State Register. Breeders, for example, complain that priority is given to high-yielding varieties, while in modern conditions, an agricultural producer can make a big profit not from the quantity of the product, but from its special qualities: the market needs a potato that has an unusual skin color, an extremely attractive presentation, suitability washable, super long-term storage ...