HEAVY RAIN across many parts of the country has hampered potato harvest progress, raising concerns over the quality of remaining crops in the ground, as well as those going into store.

But, the picture is somewhat variable, as an increasing number of farms have now finished harvest, while parts of the East have up to 30% of crops still to harvest, reports the British Potato Council (BPC).

Growers in areas of Scotland and Lancashire have also been particularly affected by the wet weather, with a few reporting crops already being written off, said the BPC‘s Rob Burrow.

Around 113,000ha or 86% of the national crop has now been harvested, compared to 98% at the same time last year latest BPC figures show.

“The last 10% could be very difficult to get. Waterlogging will be the main problem as tubers will not keep for long in saturated soils,” Mr Burrow said.

Higher amounts of soil are being taken into stores this year due to the wet conditions, therefore growers must dry crops sufficiently as they enter store, or soon after, he advised.

Shropshire grower Sandy Walker has avoided the worst of the problems associated with the wet weather on his 560ha (1,383 acres) farm near Telford.

“We are fairly pleased with harvest,” he said, having nearly completed 120ha (300 acres) of maincrop potatoes grown on mainly sandy-medium loam soil.

Generally quality has been okay, with most of the crop being sold off farm immediately after harvest, he said.