13 September 2001
Higgins: Potatoes going into store

INTO the second week of September and farmers are beggining to put potatoes into store, according to Graeme Byers of the Higgins Group.

The crisping varieties are coming in and showing reasonable yields and quality. Ninety per cent of their crisping tonnage is from Hermes, Saturna and Courage.

“The current crops are averaging 48t/ha (19.5t/acre). This is close to average.

“Although there were late plantings, the growing season has been good and it wont affect the overall yield by that much.”

The quality of the crop straight from field to factory has been impressive. “There have been good lifting conditions and damage to the potatoes has been low.”

The overall free market conditions for crisping have no overall scarcity of material, but the price is below contract prices.

The pre-pack and warehouse potatoes have developed some common scab. The main crops are Maris Piper and Marfona.

“The scab is becoming a problem after there was long dry periods followed by wet spells. The variation in conditions has made it difficult to manage the water levels.”

For potatoes going into storage, there are problems of skin set. Late planting has meant the crop has been late maturing.

“For the crisping market, the farmers must allow the crop to do some natural senescing before being dessicated.

The problem is that crops are maturing late and farmers realise the importance of getting the crops out early.”

Growers are two-thirds through desiccating crops, which is late compared to usual.


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