In the Netherlands around 180 000 hectare potatoes are cultivated annually.
The main categories are:
Potato production-------Potato processing-------Seed export
- consumer potatoes (fresh consumption and processing industries)
- potatoes for the starch industry
- seed potatoes
Potatoes are grown once a year. Planting starts in spring, as soon as the fields are sufficiently dry for soil tillage and planting and the risk of ground frost becomes small. Harvest takes place in autumn, before the fields become too wet and the risk of frost too big.
Early potatoes are occasionally already planted at the end of February, near the coast, where the risk of night frost is small.
Seed potatoes are already harvested at the end of July or early August. Since the available growing period is relatively short for this crop pre-sprouted seed is often used.
Almost all seed used in the country is from an organized seed production system.
Most seed growers have direct contacts with either a cooperative or private seed production organization. These organizations in many cases have a breeding station.
They produce seed of their own 'protected' varieties and varieties older than 30 years, not protected by ' breeders rights'.
Annually around 800 - 900 000 tonnes seed potatoes are certified in the Netherlands.
- 250 000 tonnes is sold at the domestic market
- 650 000 tonnes is exported
250 000 tonnes seed is sold on the domestic market. Most growers of consumer potatoes (fresh consumption and processing industries) and early potato crops buy their seed each year from specialized seed potato growers. Own seed multiplication does not fit in the production system of these farms.
The producers of potatoes for the starch industry purchase 10% of their seed from specialized seed growers and multiply this seed for the next season crop.
The reasons that these growers have seed multiplication for own use are:
- the relatively low price they receive for the starch potatoes
- seed multiplication fits well into the farming system
The annual export of seed potatoes is 650 000 tonnes. Worldwide the Netherlands is the largest seed exporter. Some main export markets are:
Europe and some African Mediterranean countries.