While the mild winter has not been good news for some sectors of the agriculture industry, potato growers in Sa Pobla have been enjoying the conditions. Higher than normal temperatures and very little frost have led to the export of potatoes starting much earlier than usual and to excellent forecasts because of the abundance of potatoes of very good quality.
The manager of the Esplet co-operative, Joan Company, has branded the situation as special, with potatoes being harvested three weeks earlier than last year. Although it is too early to make accurate assessments, it is expected that Sa Pobla will be exporting between 17,000 and 22,000 tons of potatoes to the UK, Scandinavia, eastern European countries such as Poland and also to Germany.
The accelerated growth of the potatoes has been due to higher temperatures over the past few months and has also helped to bump up the price during the first weeks of export. The Maris Peer new potato is currently going for 65 cents per kilo, while at the end of the cycle the price will be down below 20 cents.
Despite the good prospects, there is an unknown element. While the early maturing of the potatoes has been good for export, it is not certain how it will affect actual consumption in export markets. There was a similar situation in 2007, when in fact export started a week earlier than this year, but Joan Mateu of Mateu Export acknowledges that it is extremely early to start the export campaign as market reactions will not be totally known.
Joan Company, however, is less concerned, observing that Esplet is working with markets that allow the sale of potatoes at higher prices. For the UK, the first market to be served, the price can be a little over one euro per kilo.
The potatoes now being exported were those planted in mid-October. There are different planting periods, the last one having been in the middle of last month. With the mild winter the prospects for these and for their quality are also strong. For optimal growth the temperature shouldn't fall below four degrees.
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