The peak of harvesting in our country falls on September-October, so it’s obviously premature to talk about what results the industry has achieved this year. The summer period did not go smoothly for all regions of the country: a number of regions were affected by drought, part of the territories of the Middle Urals and Siberia were affected by heavy precipitation.
Currently, many potato growers are reporting new difficulties. Thus, some southern regions are experiencing the effects of high temperatures, which forces farmers to significantly reduce harvesting or postpone it to a later date. A high temperature background is recorded in the last days of August also in the Central Federal District and in the Volga region (meteorologists called the weather abnormal, indicating that such high temperatures are observed once every 25-30 years).
The situation in the fields changes almost daily. Back in mid-August, the average potato yields in Russia were 15 centners higher than last year, then they dropped to +5 centners compared to 2017 data for the same period. Now (as of August 28 - ed.), According to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, the average yield is 250,9 c / ha (in 2017 - 253,7 c / ha).
In general, based on the available data, it can be assumed that the table potato crop in Russia will be good. Most likely, the effects of negative weather factors will be smoothed out due to land growth (in 2018, potato cultivation areas increased by 8,8 thousand hectares), and the harvest in the industrial sector will remain at the level of last year. Although, of course, everything will depend on weather conditions in the first half of autumn.
This summer will be remembered as an extremely difficult summer for European potato growers. Many countries experienced severe drought, while severe frosts and snow fell in Germany and the Czech Republic in late August. Everything that has not burned in the fields over the summer froze on the eve of autumn. Against this background, one can expect a sharp reduction in the supply of processed products to Russia: manufacturing companies are already declaring a shortage of raw materials. It should be reminded that earlier, up to 0,5 million tons of products were imported into our country annually - in terms of raw materials.
In this situation, it is even possible that some areas will be closed: in particular, it is quite likely that they will refuse to purchase French fries from Holland and Poland (earlier supplies were about 100 thousand tons annually), given the sufficient production volumes of a Russian product of similar quality.
There is also information that the drought affected some areas of the Republic of Belarus, which allows us to assume that the pressure of Belarusian potatoes on our market this season will be less noticeable.
Weather disasters hit European seed breeders as well.
It is worth noting that last season Russia purchased only 12 thousand tons of seeds, which is significantly less than in earlier periods. The reduction in supplies was caused by several reasons, one of which is the not very favorable phytosanitary situation in certain areas of the Netherlands. Then the country's seed farms failed to fulfill some of the Russian requests for seeds, and Germany came out on top in importing potato seeds to Russia. This year, taking into account the weather surprises, the volume of imports is likely to be even lower, but the price of the product will be higher. It is difficult to predict how domestic seed growers will react to this. So far, none of the large Russian companies has announced a sharp change in pricing policy.
There are positive shifts in this direction. With great satisfaction, the Potato Union received the news about the possible construction (at the initiative of PJSC Cherkizovo Group) of another potato processing plant in the Bryansk region. I hope the project will be implemented, there are all prerequisites for this. The only “but”: at the moment, the product that is planned to be released at the enterprise is not indicated.
Also, I cannot but pay attention to the success of the Belaya Dacha plant in the Lipetsk region. Production was launched at the beginning of this year, and today the enterprise is already reaching its design capacity: the daily processing volume reaches 600-700 tons of potatoes. The plant's products are in high demand - including abroad, there are real requests from buyers, and not only from the countries of the former USSR (which were originally counted on), but also from Western Europe. This is a very good signal for the market.