Potatoes being harvested© Tim Scrivener

Maris Piper remains the UK’s number one potato variety in terms of area grown, but has been eclipsed in terms of growth by a number of new, specialist varieties.

Provisional estimates published by AHDB Potatoes this month show the total potato planting area increased to 116,200ha in 2016 from 111,400ha last year.

The area the Maris Piper variety is grown on increased 5% from 16,600ha in 2015 to 17,400ha – the largest increase in area of all potato varieties.

Markies, down 4% from 6,400ha to 6,100ha, and Maris Peer, up 5% from 4,800ha to 5,000ha, were also non-movers – holding on to second and third places respectively.

See also: Predictions for the potato sector in 2016

Maris Piper aside, the largest increases came from newer, specialist varieties, which AHDB Potatoes says are increasing popular with both purchasers and growers.

The Taurus crisping variety, up 32% from 1,800ha to 2,400ha, and processing variety Royal, up 38% from 1,700ha to 2,400ha, stormed into the top 10, with the planted area for both up by more than 500ha on last year.

2016 rank

Variety

2015 area grown (ha)

2016 area grown (ha)

% change

2015 Rank

1

Maris Piper

16,600

17,400

+5

1

2

Markies

6,400

6,100

-4

2

3

Maris Peer

4,800

5,000

+5

3

4

Melody

3,500

3,600

+5

5

5

Lady Rosetta

4,400

3,600

-20

4

6

Estima

3,100

3,400

-10

6

7

Pentland Dell

2,700

2,800

+4

8

8

Taurus

1,800

2,400

+32

14

9

Royal

1,700

2,400

+38

15

10

Marfona

2,300

2,400

+3

10

Strong gains were also seen outside the top 10.

The Brooke crisping variety jumped 17 places to 26 with an increase of 114%.

The Nectar packing variety also climbed seven places to 11th with a 49% increase in area grown.

Meanwhile, fifth-placed crisping variety Lady Rosetta saw the largest area decrease of the year, down 20% from 4,400ha in 2015 to 3,600ha.

“All of these varieties have been on a declining trend for the past few years,” AHDB Potatoes commented.

“Packing, processing and crisping varieties all show up both in those making the strongest gains as well as those failing the most, suggesting switching into the newest varieties in these sectors.”