18 September 2000
Poor weather takes toll on potatoes

By FWi staff

FINE weather in early September is unlikely to restore potato yield that was lost to earlier poor weather, says the British Potato Council.

Early-maturing potato crops are senescing fast or being burnt off, says the BPCs Rob Burrow.

Although later-planted maincrops have continued to bulk, overall output is expected to be 1-2t/ha (8-16cwt/acre) down on an area 4% less than last year.

“It has put more confidence in the market so far, said Mr Burrow.

“Prices have eased a bit recently, but the average of 118/t at the end of last week is still higher than the 75/t at the same time last year.

Crop quality overall is expected to be much the same as last year, and the BPC is looking at 15% wastage.

“There are fewer reports of greening, but there is scab and cracking in some places.

“I expect that by the end of the season we could be getting a bit short of the best pre-packing samples.”

Meanwhile in Holland, new pre-packs which increase the shelf life of potatoes include indicators which warn if they are going off.

The technique, developed by the University of Wageningens Agro-technical Research Institute, seals potatoes in a bag with a secret mixture mix of gases.

Senior scientist Arnold Braaksma says the respiration of the potato is balanced with the properties of the packaging to provide a constant environment

Indicators on the packaging show retailers and consumers if the atmosphere is changing.