5 April 1996

Spud plantings lag in cold

POTATO plantings are slipping behind schedule as cold soils deter growers from committing maincrops to the ground.

Up to last weekend only 23,857ha (58,950 acres) of the total crop was in the ground, the PMB estimates. Last year 27,242ha (67,315 acres) or 19% was in by the same date.

Best progress in the past five years was in 1993 when 68,141ha (168,376 acres) were planted by then.

Field conditions remain good. But by the start of the week most growers felt soil temperatures were still too low to tempt them into much planting, reports a PMB spokesman.