DELAYS in potato planting could trim maincrop yield by 10-15%, according to Simon Bowen of Anglian Produce. "It is getting worrying. We are well behind." BPC figures highlight the slowest progress in 10 years.
Management of sprouted but unsown seed is a priority to avoid lower in-field vigour, increased blackleg and poorer storage, says Mr Bowen. Where seed is matted together it could be worthwhile regrading now rather than allow sprouts to be knocked off at planting, he advises.
However the BPCs Mike Storey warns that the exercise could increase disease risks if temperatures rise. Three times the area planted by last weekend – about 35,000ha (86,500 acres) – was in the ground by the same time last year, but 1997 progress was above average, he notes. "The key to 1998 is patience." *