Potato planting is finally making progress in many areas following delays due to cold weather, according to latest reports from the British Potato Council.

Total planting is estimated to be around 2,000ha behind last year at over 6,700ha, although with ideal planting conditions and rising soil temperatures in many areas much more progress is being made, said the BPC’s Rob Burrow.

“We’re only at the end of March, so there is plenty of time to catch up. Wetter conditions have held back progress in some areas this week, but soils have been so dry recently that they have absorbed much of this rain.”

Good progress has been made in the south and east, where in the earliest districts, plants are marking the rows, with the most advanced bushing out, he said. In the east, it is estimated that the most advanced growers are 30% completed, although some have not yet started.

In northern England and Scotland, it is mainly token areas that have been planted so far, although improved weather conditions should increase activity this week, he added.

Mr Burrow said that crops already in the ground during the cold spell have not suffered notable damage, but delayed growth means harvesting of early varieties is likely to be one to two weeks later than normal this year.

To view the latest BPC market report, see www.potato.org.uk