WITH 1-2% of the potato crop already written off in Scotland, parts of eastern England and the Midlands due to wet soil conditions, careful monitoring of stores is vital, experts have warned.

The amount of soil on tubers taken into store will be key to determining how long crops keep, explained the British Potato Council‘s Rob Burrow.

Where crops have been harvested late from difficult ground conditions particular vigilance should be applied, he said.

“Many growers with late lifted crops will be looking to market this side of Christmas.”

A mixture of quality problems are causing concern, such as wet rot resulting from blight or waterlogging and greening, he said.

Some 3% of the UK potato crop is still in the ground, but recent frosts will not have had much impact on quality, Mr Burrows said.

“We generally need three to four nights of continuous frost to make a significant impact.”

Calls for extra vigilance to ensure stored potatoes are kept in good condition were strengthened by Luxan UK managing director Malcolm Nursey.

“Growers and storekeepers should monitor crops daily during temperature pull-down. You should also check temperature is even throughout the store,” he said.

Where crops were particularly muddy, this could affect the performance of CIPC (Chlorpropham) sprout suppressant treatments, he said.

Tubers should be dry and any nicks and cuts healed over before any CIPC application, Mr Nursey pointed out.