The potatoes in the Netherlands will be harvested later than usual this season. “Because of thecold and wet weather of late the planting has been postponed. The open-field offeris still small for now,” says Jan Goedegebuure at the start of May. The Goedegebuure- Gunter company from Sint-Annaland has been cultivating potatoes for over 20 years. Doréin a greenhouse under plastic and Frieslander in the open field.
The arsenal of Dutchgreenhouse potatoes is not very big. Potato growers use the greenhouses as anaddition to the open field cultivation. According to Jan this is not difficult.“There are diseases that you hardly have trouble with outside, but those areeasily dealt with. Besides, in the greenhouse you can give water and when neededturn on the heating to counter the nightly frost. This year we had a lot offrost in February. So we needed to heat more than usual.”
The greenhousepotatoes grown by the company from the province of Zeeland end up in farmer shops. The open-fieldpotatoes go to Auction Sint-Annaland. Beforethe auction even starts, deliveries are already made on demand. “At this pointthere are already traders who want potatoes but not yet enough volume to startthe auction. The auction director then sells them on demand. This way you havea bit more influence on the price.”
It’s all about the right timing. “Within two weeksthe potatoes must be gone. When the harvest from the open field begins, the offerincreases and the price decreases. It's an art to not create a gap between theharvest from the greenhouses and the harvest from the open field”, says Jan. “Inthe greenhouses you have an influence on the growing conditions, but for theopen field this is not the case.” To make the harvest from the open field andthe harvest from the greenhouses come closer after each other the company hasstarted drip irrigation.
Jan notices the competitionfrom abroad keeps on growing. “This might become a problem. Now you alreadyhave Spanish Doré and in a while France will also be joining. Quality is prettydecent.” Yet Dutch potatoes are the best, according to Jan. “The Doré taste thebest when you harvest them when the plant is green. When the plant dies youwill notice it in the flavour of the potato. The greener the leaf, the better thepotato tastes.”