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Skin quality is spud concern

9 January 1998

Skin quality is spud concern

IMPROVING prices for top quality potato samples are increasing the pressure for careful store monitoring. Silver scurf and black dot are major concerns.

With most known suspect samples now cleared, overall quality is improving slightly, says the British Potato Councils Robert Burrow. But wastage, currently at 19%, is considerably higher than last years 12% and prepackers are having to grade hard to get acceptable quality, he notes.

"For the majority of average grades there will be sufficient supplies. But obviously for the top quality it is going to be very tight."

Some stores continue to have problems and need watching very carefully. "In some cases they are breaking down and having to be moved fairly quickly."

Most crops with obvious blight and/or blackleg were shifted before Christmas, agrees Simon Bowen of Anglian Produce. Skin finish is now his main concern.

"We are watching out for silver scurf developing, because there were quite high levels going into store. Black dot, which can lift the skin off and make tubers unsightly, is also a bit of a concern." Early infection caused by the wet June is the culprit, he believes.

Quality out of store at this stage of the year can be tricky to judge, according to John Manchett of Cambs-based MBM Produce. With many farmers on holiday, processors and packers tend to rely more on their own stores, he explains.

"The picture may not be totally representative because they can be more selective about what goes in in the first place."

Colleague Chris Marshall says crops are coming out reasonably well. Skin finish is the main worry. "It was a bad year for potatoes going into store with black dot and silver scurf."

"Black dot in King Edward and Squire could be a bit of a problem," agrees Peter Hewett of Lincs-based Branston Potatoes. "We have seen a bit of frost damage, but it has been easy to grade out." Any crops with obvious blight were sold straight off the field, he notes.n

POTATOES EX-STORE

&#8226 Waste 7% up on last year.

&#8226 Top quality tubers at premium.

&#8226 Skin finish main concern – silver scurf and black dot.

&#8226 Blight & blackleg affected stock gone by Christmas.

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Skin quality is spud concern

8 January 1998

By FW reporters

IMPROVING prices for top-quality potato samples are increasing the pressure for careful storage, according to experts.

Most known suspect samples are now cleared and overall quality is gradually improving, according to Rob Burrow of the British Potato Council. But wastage is running at 19% and pre-packers are having to grade hard to get acceptable quality, he adds.

Skin finish is now the main concern, reports Simon Bowen of Anglian Produce. Many crops going into store had shown high levels of silver scurf, he says. Black dot is also a concern.

Quality out of store can be tricky to judge, according to John Manchett of Cambridgeshire-based MBM Produce. Processors and packers tended to rely on their own stores over Christmas while many farmers were on holiday, he says.

Growers should keep an eye out for black dot in King Edward and Squire, warns Peter Hewett of Branston Potatoes.

“We have seen a bit of frost damage, but it has been easy to grade out,” he said.

  • For this and other stories, see this weeks Farmers Weekly, 9 January, 1998

  • Click here for Potato Trends

  • Click here for October-December 1997 Potato market reports
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