By FWi staff

THE British Potato Council has advised growers to wait for suitable planting conditions before pressing ahead with sowing this seasons crop.

Torrential rain and plummeting temperatures have delayed this years campaign by weeks. This time last year, more than 90,000 hectares had been planted. So far this season, less than 40,000 hectares are in the ground.

“The key to making the most of the 1998 season will be patience,” said BPC research and development director, Mike Storey. “Planting into compacted, cloddy soils may produce crops with inadequate and short-lived leaf cover.”

Mr Storey urges growers to wait for heavily rain-soaked soil to dry out to the intended depth of cultivation before planting – especially if de-stoning or de-clodding is planned.

Excessive field work threatens soil structure and can lead to slumping or capping of ridges. And compaction will significantly impair emergence and initial crop growth, he added.

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