15 March 2002

Spud planters on schedule

POTATO planting is progressing well with 2500ha (6200 acres) set by Monday, the BPC estimates.

"Last week the land dried out very well and many crops have gone into ideal seedbeds," comments market information manager Rob Burrow.

Growers are keen to avoid the delays of the past two seasons, gambling on there being no late frosts. "If there are they will get caught," acknowledges Mr Burrow.

But mid-January stocks of 3m tonnes compared with 2.6m tonnes this time last year suggest those aiming for premium early markets from central areas could be disappointed.

With no set-backs so far, early crops in Cornwall could be lifted as early as the end of March this year, he adds. &#42

&#8226 Turn to pages 72-79 for our Potato Agronomy Special.

Paul Bex loads King Edwards for pre-pack planting at Russell Smith Farms, Duxford, Cambs. Late frosts are a risk worth taking, says manager Andrew Nottage, who had 28% of the farms 190ha planted by Monday. "Weve had such dreadful Aprils the past couple of years and conditions have been perfect so Ive decided to crack on."


Year Area planted (ha)

2002 2500

2001 1200

2000 1400

1999 2200

1998 5000

Source: BPC, Mar 11