The beet harvest begins this week. They will be less sweet this year due to the lack of sun. At the Tirlemontoise refinery, 4,000 local beet growers will harvest no less than 31,000 tonnes of beets per day. The potato harvest started a few weeks ago but will intensify now. It looks average this year because of the mildew and the weather.
The beet harvest promises to be correct in quantity, within the average of the last 5 years. It begins today for the Tienen refinery and will end at the beginning of January. Other refineries started ten days ago. The sugar content of beets hoped for this year is 17.25%, so 172 kilos of sugar per ton of beet. It is little (lack of sun), but if there is sun in October the sugar level will improve.
Over the past three years half of beet growers have sold below cost and have therefore lost money. It was 300 euros per tonne of sugar. To be compared with the 404 euros minimum price at the time of the European quotas. It would take 450 euros for the beetroot to earn a good living. However, the situation is improving as world beet prices are on the rise.
The potato harvest started at the end of August. It promises to be average on the scale of the national territory. There were losses due to flooding in the east of the country and, conversely, we are currently in too dry conditions (it rained little in September). Harvesting should be able to start on a large scale this week or at the latest next week, before the end of October-beginning of November and its risk of frost.
The late blight disease affected the potato plantations. The mildew had to be combated by spraying twice as much as usual in traditional agriculture, which caused an increase in production costs. In the organic sector, we could not spray pesticides but there are two solutions: more robust varieties and Bordeaux mixture (6Kg / hectare / year maximum). These will not prevent a relatively low harvest, however.
Potato prices are expected to remain correct based on annual delivery contracts with predetermined prices. On the other hand, organic producers will sell their potatoes at a higher price, hoping that supermarkets will not pass the price on to the end consumer.