21 March 1997

Potato picture

AN east/west split is a feature of this seasons potato plantings.

Machines have been working in all regions but especially well in the east, according to the Potato Marketing Board.

Overall the area sown by the end of last week, at an estimated 6873ha (17,000 acres), was about 10% up on the same time last year, and nearly double the 1995 figure.

"Conditions improved tremendously last week with the ground drying rapidly," says a spokesman. Soil temperatures in the east are described as near perfect.

Indeed warm weather made it hard to keep sprouted seed in check and some growers planted second earlies and maincrops despite the risk of frost later.