MAINCROP POTATO lifting is making good progress, although the wet summer may yet put a further dampener on prospects, according to latest reports.

So far progress is around a week ahead of 2003 with 33% of the national crop harvested by Friday Sep 10, said Denis Alder of the British Potato Council.

“Lifting is going quite rapidly,” he said. “Reports of gross yields indicate they are up on previous years.”

But there are early signs of losses due to rot, blight and tuber greening, caused by heavy rain disturbing furrows. This could have an effect on marketable yield, he added.

There could be problems with how potatoes keep in store, although it is still too early to tell whether this is representative of the national situation.

The next couple of weeks will be “quite sensitive”, Mr Alder suggested.

If the weather remains settled, “it looks like being an average year”.

Many growers have been eager to get on with harvest over the past week after the difficult conditions so far this year.

This is in contrast to last year, when some held back from lifting due to exceptionally dry soils, he concluded.