LISTENING TO the sound potato tubers make while sprouting underground can indicate likely yield and harvest date, growers have been told.

The traditional method, known as ‘piping‘, is being trialled by two Cornish early potato growers, John and Billy Wallis on their farm near Penzanze.

“At first it is difficult to differentiate sprouting noises from the surrounding soil movement, but you soon learn to pick out the sound of sprouting tubers,” said Billy Wallis.

“I am certain that this year we have a bumper crop as the tubers have been very active and making much more noise than usual.”

Using the method, Mr Wallis estimates the first crop of Cornish earlies will be ready by April 28.

“Cornish early new potatoes are the very first potatoes to be lifted on British soils,” added John Forster of Penwith Farm Business Centre, involved with the Taste of the West campaign.

“They are sold dirty to maintain freshness and their delicate flavour; they are the very earliest signs of the new season‘s growth.”