24 May 1996

Spud lift is lagging far behind normal

POTATO harvesting has been slow again this week, with rain interrupting progress.

Cumulative clearings had reached 69ha (171 acres) by Wednesday, less than half the area lifted at the same time last year.

Cornwall continues to account for most of this, though there has been some lifting in Pembrokeshire and on the Isle of Wight.

With average yields at 11.2t/ha (4.5t/acre), and prices at £516/t, gross returns on Wednesday stood at £5759/ha (£2331/acre). At the same time last year, the figure stood at £8321/ha (£3368/acre).

Yields continue to be very variable, says PMB field manager in Cornwall John Harris. Crops have started to bulk, but the response from buyers has been slow.

"Continued cold weather means people are still eating soups and stews rather than salads and potatoes."