22 October 1999

Potato yields vary after stop start summer

STOP-START growing conditions through the summer have had a big impact on potato yields.

Much depended on development stage when the hot, dry weather of July struck, says Greenvale AP technical director, Simon Bowen.

"Yields can only be described by one word – variable," he says.

Later planted second earlies, such as Estima or Marfona, died off early in the heat, cutting yields substantially. But those planted in good time had already accumulated reasonable tonnages, he adds.

"Maincrop varieties, such as Cara or Maris Piper, still had enough growth potential to squeeze on quite a bit of weight when the rain came in August, despite looking pretty sick."

But ADASs Denis Buckley believes the rain and dull conditions are behind low dry matter contents being reported in the West Midlands. "August was the killer really," he says.

Variable yields are due to field factors more than varietal performance, he believes. "I think a lot of crops ran out of nitrogen. Growers started with a very low base level in the soil, and suffered leaching losses during the growing season. &#42