What did the 2018 summer of potato growers in Russia remember? What results do they expect from the season? With these questions, we turned to representatives of farms from various regions of the country.
In most areas, by the time the survey was conducted (August 30-31), cleaning had just begun.
Forecasts on the farm's crop are being made carefully and, alas, are not optimistic everywhere.
Valery TALYKIN, Deputy Director of Zaborskiy LLC, Tver region 120 ha under potatoes
- The main problems that we faced this season when growing potatoes were caused by drought. It rained in our area during the first May holidays, and then not a drop fell on the ground until June 10. In July and August, the rains were also noticeably lacking. The lack of moisture in the soil has led to unexpected consequences for us: the invasion of the winter moth.
Previously, we never noted this pest in the fields (not counting isolated cases), so we did not carry out special treatments.
The caterpillars practically did not damage the plant stems (because of this, the problem was noticed late - with the beginning of the first digging in August), mainly tubers were hit. Cleaning has not yet been completed, so it is difficult to determine the exact amount of damage. I think that we will have to send about 10-15% of the harvest for livestock feed.
The rest can be said that the season was successful. It is worth noting the excellent quality of seed potatoes, and increased yields on food. The potato tubers are slightly smaller than usual, but these are also the effects of a lack of moisture.
Alexey DOKSHIN, General Director of OOO Prostor, Tyumen region 200 ha under potatoes
- Summer in our area turned out to be cold and rather dry. Some varieties did not have enough moisture: a lot of tubers were set, but they remained medium-sized.
In general, the season has shifted by two to three weeks, now we are trying to extend the harvesting time for some varieties to get tubers of a higher fraction. But the weather does not give a chance, at night low temperatures are already steadily held. From the first days of September, we will start digging everywhere, since in our region during this period you can expect any surprises from nature.
At the moment, I can say that I am satisfied with the productivity, the indicators are higher than last year. But it is too early to take stock.
Mikhail DOVGALEV, head of the farm Dovgalev M.M., Bryansk region 1200 ha under potatoes
- This year, our potatoes suffered from both drought (the first rain fell on the 58th day after planting), and from excessive moisture (July turned out to be generous in rains). Unfortunately, the schedule of natural precipitation did not always coincide with our desires: it rained at the wrong periods when the potatoes needed moisture, so the result in some fields was lower than planned.
Plots located in lowlands, with heavy soils, were blocked, potatoes died from suffocation (in some fields, the area of such plots reaches 25% of the total). In areas with sandy soils, moisture quickly disappeared, the situation is better there. Yield indicators, accordingly, differ from field to field: somewhere we got 400-450 c / ha, and somewhere - only 280 c / ha.
Now cleaning is in full swing, we are making a bookmark for storage. The situation with prices on the market worries: I don't want to sell potatoes at 6 rubles / kg. Seventeen years ago, when I first started working, the price level was the same, but the investment was incomparably lower.
Yuri SUBBOTIN, Farm Subbotin Brothers, Kursk region 230 ha under potatoes
- We had a bad summer, drought. The rains began when there was no longer a need for them. On the positive side, I can note that this year the potatoes did not suffer from diseases, since all treatments for late blight and Alternaria were timely made.
The harvest is worse than last year. In 2017, the yield in the fields without irrigation reached 70 t / ha, excellent results were shown by Gala and Red Sonya. This year, we fix the yield at the level of 45-50 t / ha. We will collect obviously less than we planned. It is surprising that with such a yield in the region, prices for potatoes are very low - 7.50-8 rubles / kg. Everything is becoming more expensive except for potatoes. The farm also grows other crops, including mustard, rapeseed, soybeans - and it turns out that it is easier and more profitable to grow any of them in our natural zone.
Andrey VORONENKOV, head of farm "Vityaz", Pskov region. 350 hectares for potatoes
- For the entire period from mid-May to mid-August, no more than 70-80 mm of precipitation fell in our area. The consequences for the harvest, I think, are obvious.
On the other hand, our fields bypassed fungal diseases: late blight, first of all.
Autumn harvesting has just begun (we have been selling early varieties of potatoes since July 18), the weather conditions for harvesting are quite favorable, the rains have passed, the ground is soft, but the results are not encouraging. The average yield is about 25 t / ha (last season - 40 t / ha). I think that the shortage on the shaft (if we focus on the first digging) will be about 40%, and for potatoes with a fraction of 45-50 mm it is even higher - about 50-60%.
For seed potatoes, the situation is better. In conditions of drought, the varieties Queen Anna and Belmonda showed themselves well. With green tops while Bernina is standing, we will carry out desiccation. And we have high hopes for Madeira, the view of the field is beautiful.
In our region, harvesting usually lasts until mid-October, this year, with such volumes, apparently, we will finish earlier if the weather does not intervene.
I don't really want to talk about the prices of the spring-autumn 2018 season. The farm has suffered significantly from the situation with the dominance of Egyptian potatoes in stores. Imports failed market demand and prices between March and June this year. Thousands of tons of ware potatoes from the 2017 harvest were either fed to livestock or disposed of. This situation was observed in all regions of Russia.
I had to change plans, abandon the construction of a new storage facility, get into credit. And now the price in the potato market is not high. It is sold at the same cost as 15 years ago. Just imagine how hard you have to work to stay afloat in such conditions.