POTATO HARVESTING is largely complete across much of the UK, but some growers are still trying to salvage the last few crops, according to the British Potato Council.

Harvesting is still ongoing in parts of Scotland, Lancashire and the Midlands, said the BPC‘s Rob Burrow.

“There are still a few growers with sizeable bits left, but some have already been written off.”

Total harvested yields are slightly down this year at 45.5t/ha compared to 46.6t/ha in 2003, he said.

“It has been a difficult season straight from the off. The beginning of September was a bit drier, which allowed better progress, but it has been a real struggle ever since.”

Breakdown in store and skin finish problems are the main factors growers should be concerned with from now on, he said.

The wetter harvest and increased blight this season have increased the risk of storage problems developing, he said.

More skin finish problems such as black dot and silver scurf, caused by the wetter, cooler weather, are of particular concern to the packing sector, Mr Burrow said.

He reinforced calls for careful monitoring of crops in store and pointed out that in some cases crops will need to be moved fairly rapidly after harvest, where storage quality is a concern.

There are increasing reports of potato storage problems in ambient stores in particular, he noted.