POTATO QUALITY and storage potential is generally good this season, despite some regional variability, according to latest reports from the British Potato Council (BPC).

With around 100,000ha (80%) of the total GB crop now harvested, progress is only just (4%) behind last year, despite a dry start to lifting and some growers waiting for crops to bulk up.

Harvest is largely complete in the southwest and Wales, while just over 70% of crops have been lifted in Scotland, where progress is regarded as two weeks behind usual as many growers left crops to grow on, the BPC said.

While storage quality is better than 2004 and overall wastage is likely to be low, common scab is present in many crops, particularly those in drier, non-irrigated areas, said the BPC’s Rob Burrow.

Apart from some later harvested crops on heavy land, lifting conditions have been good and less soil has been taken into store, which has helped storage prospects, he said. A few early lifted crops in Scotland reportedly suffered bruising, which could affect storability.

According to provisional BPC estimates, yields are slightly below 2004 in many areas, due to variable tuber size and fewer bold tubers.

In the southwest, maincrop ware yields averaged 48t/ha (in a range of 37-65t/ha), which is down slightly on the 51t/ha last year. In Scotland, yields are also expected to be around 3t/ha down on 2004 at around 44t/ha.

Given fair weather, the BPC suggests harvest should be complete by the end of October and the first published BPC estimate of GB yield and production is expected on 11 November 2005.