By FWi staff

POTATO plantings are down on this time last year because wet weather has made fieldwork almost impossible, it has emerged.

British Potato Council figures show that only 33,600ha of potatoes have been planted so far this season. This time last year 90,300ha were in the ground.

“Conditions over the past few weeks have been far too wet to plant,” confirmed BPC economist, Ronan ONeill. “Planting at the moment is likely to cause more harm than good.”

Mr ONeill said farmers would be able to catch up after three or four days of dry weather. But many growers will be worried that any delay could have knock-on effects later in the season.

The wet weather could delay the harvesting of salad-potato crops and crispers due to be delivered in August. And the shorter growing season is likely to mean lower dry-matter yields.