POTATO LIFTING is making slow progress in difficult conditions, according to latest industry reports.

But variable weather across the country means while some areas continue to struggle with wet soils, others are experiencing near ideal harvesting conditions, says the British Potato Council.

“Getting crops out of the ground should be the main priority for growers,” said BPC‘s Rob Burrow.

Conditions in much of East Anglia are “ideal,” according to some growers, but parts of the northwest and midlands are still very wet, he said.

“Progress in Scotland is going very well, with most of the seed crop harvested and approximately 70% of maincrop potatoes now done.”

In England around 75% is now complete, down on the 83% at the same time last year, he added.

The biggest quality concerns for growers are the incidence of wet rot and blight, both increased by the wet conditions earlier this year, Mr Burrow said.

“Where crops have been harvested in wet soil there is also a risk of taking more soil into store, therefore growers need to ensure crops are clean.”

Slug damage, especially in the Piper variety, together with powdery scab were also highlighted as particular concerns this season – the latter having greater importance for skin finish.

Norfolk has been one of the areas to benefit from reasonably good conditions over recent weeks, reported Bob Brewer from MBM Produce.

“Despite much anxiety earlier in the season, it has been a great surprise to see crops have done quite well.

“We have managed to avoid many of the quality concerns that have affected other areas.”

Given another week of fine weather, Mr Brewer expects to have finished the bulk of this season‘s 400ha (1,000 acre) maincrop harvest.