13 September 2001
Potatoes ahead of schedule

SIMON HEATH, who farms at Stockton near Newport in Shropshire, says he is two weeks ahead of schedule on potatoes.

“We were one of the first to start two months ago. We have had some very bold samples for early bagging and fish and chips.”

Yields have been average. Early Maris Piper yielded 57t/ha (23t/acre) and later ones 62t/ha (25t/acre). “Thats quite pleasing.”

He is more worried about Nadine and Estima, which are still in the ground. “Theres a remarkable lack of demand.

“The prices are very bad at the minute. I hope that once the stores are full, people will turn down the appalling prices and the prices will firm up.”

“With demand weak, they are demanding 100% perfect potatoes. Its not realistic to be selling quality potatoes at 60/t.”

The quality of his crop has been good. “There was a slight quality issue on some pre-pack, which was higher in scab. But its not too bad.”

Irrigation on the farm had a spell of 5-6 weeks through June when they were going flat out. “It was touch and go for a bit, going 24 hours a day. We had to buy another irrigator.”

He plans to start loading into store in 10 days. He says there will be a weeks harvesting from then. There have been problems with crops finishing.

“They were planted later than usual and we have had to make sure the dry matter is above 19% for processing.

“The plants are younger and immature looking. They are being burnt off and then it will take another three weeks for the skins to set.”


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