The early potato crop was ruined by floods and then wind. | Archive

The export of Sa Pobla potatoes will be delayed considerably. Following the damaging effect of heavy rain and floods, the wind of last weekend saw off plants that had survived. Josep Llabrés of the s'Esplet cooperative says that the early potato crop has been given up as lost.

The export campaign normally starts next month - it was earlier last year because of the complete contrast in weather - but it almost certainly won't start in March. Farmers at present don't know when to start taking potatoes out. Llabrés explains that they won't begin to get an idea until an assessment can be made of the condition of crops.

The additional damage caused by the wind is not expected to be claimed for. At the beginning of the week, the town hall published a list of damage from the floods that amounts to three million euros, three-quarters of which are for potato crops. In addition, there are claims made by growers within the cooperative who are channelling these via the Asaja farmers' association. Its manager, Joan Simonet, says that members have losses estimated at one million euros. Llabrés, however, believes that the total cost is much higher than has so far been declared.

In order for there to be a complete valuation, farmers are having to wait for insurance companies to send their assessors. They haven't yet been to Sa Pobla because they have been kept busy with claims on the mainland.

The expectation, therefore, is that this is going to be a very poor year for the potato exporters serving the UK and Scandinavian markets. To give an indication as to the significance of the Sa Pobla potato business, in 2011 Sa Pobla exported 22% of Spain's total production.

As well as damage to potato crops, farmers have made claims for losses to cabbages, artichokes, onions, peppers, cereals and fruit trees.