Revolutionizing Potato Production: The Role of Hybrid True Potato Seeds in Overcoming Supply Shortages

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The European Union is facing a daunting challenge as it gears up for the 2024 growing season: a dwindling supply of potato seed. According to a recent press release from Belpotato.be, a significant reduction in seed-producing areas has been observed across the EU's top five seed-producing nations – the Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark, and Belgium. Since 2022, these countries have seen a collective decrease of 10,000 hectares in seed cultivation, bringing the total area down to approximately 84,200 hectares.

The 2023 seed production cycle, as outlined by Belpotato.be, witnessed only average yields. The seeds were notably larger in size, resulting in fewer tubers per plant. Additionally, the season was marred by intense viral pressures early on, leading to a significant rate of downgrading during the certification process. Persistent rains, particularly in the Netherlands, further compounded the situation by preventing the harvest of several hundred hectares.

Decrease in availability

As a result of these challenges, there has been a stark decrease in the availability of potato seeds for the upcoming season. It is estimated that there could be as much as a 25% decrease in seed tuber supply.  Meanwhile, demand continues to surge, especially for processing varieties, as the European potato industry aims to expand its cultivation footprint. Consequently, seed prices are skyrocketing, affecting all sectors – from fries and chips to fresh market potatoes – and impacting both contract-bound and independent commercial transactions.

In light of these developments, potato producers across various sectors may need to explore alternative seed sources beyond their traditional supply chains. Belpotato.be underscores the importance of adhering to all prevailing rules and standards in the industry to mitigate the challenges posed by this shortage.

Innovation is key

However, amidst this seed supply crisis, there is an innovation in the form of Hybrid True Potato Seeds (HTPS), an invention by Solynta. This can serve as a long-term solution to the potato starting supply predicament. Solynta’s HTPS offers several benefits that could revolutionize the industry, including readily available seed, which is clean and disease-free, stores the same as any other True Seed (tomato, maize, carrot, etc), and can be shipped anywhere at anytime. These advantages not only support improved food security but also foster the development of local ecosystems by providing reliable access to quality seed material. By embracing HTPS, both the European potato industry and other far away countries can pave the way for a sustainable and resilient future, ensuring the continuity of potato production for generations to come.

* This BLOG was written and published by Charles Miller, Director of Strategic Alliances and Development at Solynta.

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