Florian Amberger in lettuce cropFlorian Amberger farms south of Frankfurt

German grower Florian Amberger believes EU subsidies are useful but not essential even after a poor potato season on his Rhineland farm.

Growing high-value crops he says farm subsidies do not have a big effect on his farming even after wet weather in June hit harvesting and yields of his early potato crop.

He farms in the middle Rhine valley, 60 miles south of Frankfurt, in an area of intensive vegetable growing which relies heavily on irrigation.

“If there were no subsidies, we would not be that much worse off. Subsidies are not really necessary in this region,” he tells Farmers Weekly.

See also: Coping with low prices – German farmers tell their stories

He argues his high-value crops such as early potatoes can produce an output worth €20,000/ha (£16,900/ha) compared with a EU subsidy of about €200/ha (£169/ha).

“If my potatoes are making €20,000, I should not be farming if I can not work without subsidies,” he adds.

This comes after tough season for his 60ha of potatoes which suffered from cold temperatures in February and March following planting.

Irrigation equipment in German crops

The farmland relies heavily on irrigation for its vegetable production

“Yields decreased and soil conditions were bad, so it took a whole day to fill a 26t truck with potatoes whereas normally it takes four hours,” he says.

Potato harvest started a few days later than normal on 25 May, but heavy rains fell soon after and his crops were well below normal yields of about 40t/ha.

In addition, the late season in Germany forced many retailers to buy more from Spain, Egypt and Greece and with plenty of spuds the price fell from about €50/100kg (£42/100kg) at the start of the season to below €40 (£34).

He farms 125ha in the village of Hochdorf, 10 miles south-west of Mannheim, owning 20ha and renting the remaining 105ha, growing a range of crops include spuds, sugar beet, lettuce, cabbage and peas.

Mr Amberger has expanding his farming operation over the past four years from 70ha despite high rents which average between €500/ha-€800/ha (£423/ha-£677/ha) with some land renting for as much as €2,500/ha (£2,116/ha).