12 September 2001
Backlog worries potato group

SIMON BOWEN of the Abbey Group, based in Whittlesey in Peterborough, is worried about the backlog of crops in the ground or waiting to be moved off farms.

Most of their growers are in East Anglia.

“A lot of the second earlys crops are sitting in the ground with nowhere to go. The longer this goes on the more nervous growers will become.

“Some are taking short-term storage, but others do not have that capacity.

“Some are harvesting some nice baker crops with good skin finish, just so they have got a harvest window later on in harvest.”

He says there are lots of reasons why the market is saturated. “There is a backlog from last season which has carried through earlys and the demand is poorer.”

Putting potatoes into store now may bring problems later. “There are wet holes in fields especially parts of Norfolk and on field headlands.

“These areas need to be selected carefully for storage so problems are not found later on.”

Lifting conditions have been very good recently. The quality of the crops has been fairly good.

“In the hot and dry conditions some have shown secondary growth with some mis-shapes. There have also been some internal problems common across all varieties. Blight has crept into one or two crops”

He says the main crop needs to gain some bulk and size, otherwise below average yields will occur. This is as a result of the late planting.

“Farmers will need to burn the crops off within two weeks or there could be some poor lifting conditions later on. Some of the larger farmers are getting a bit nervous.”

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