13 September 2001
Late spud progress, good quality

“CROPS were planted later into cold and wet soil. As a result the crops have been late maturing,” says Andrew Hornigold of Peak Potatoes, near Kings Lynn in Norfolk.

“The tuber numbers are there but there is no size.” As a result they have only harvested some second earlies Shepody and Morene and a little bit of Piper.

“Weve only sprayed off 20% of the main crop, with 7-8000t going into store. We always aim to get done and dusted by Bonfire Night (5 November). But if the weather sets in like it has the last couple of years we could have trouble.”

The quality so far has been good. Processing varieties have good dry matter, but the yields are down by 15-20%. “There is a touch of blight about, despite keeping up with spraying. This will be a problem when it comes into store.”

The market also worries him. “There are low prices, a lack of interest in crops and if we dont achieve the yield we could be making a loss.”

The late season worries him and this is reflected by some of the crops being grown on lighter soils. “The back end of the year seems to come quicker and is colder and wetter so weve tried to make it easier for ourselves.”

He says the market for Estima and Marfona has been “overdone” as early crops and this has forced prices of good quality potatoes down now.

“They are going to have to expect some poorer quality pre-pack once the main crop starts so prices should recover. There is likely to be some common scab in the late crop.”

“I think weve had the best now, but the quality is fantastic at the moment. I think the pre-packers are in for a big shock.”

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