16 October 1998

Trouble-hit spuds need a rethink next season

BAD weather at both ends of the current potato season has delayed skin set and upset harvesting and storage plans. To avoid a repeat growers should consider more earlier maturing types for next year, says NIAB.

Worst hit are late plantings of late maturing maincrop varieties. By being forced to delay lifting growers have run into wet weather which has further upset harvesting schedules.

At the start of this week 42% of the UK crop had been cleared compared with 68% last year, reports the British Potato Council. "The harvest is running 10-14 days behind schedule and most areas are affected," says BPCs Rob Burrow.

"Late maturing maincrop varieties are not bulking up as fast as they should due to the dull summer, so yields are poorer than normal," says NIABs Simon Kerr. "There is a lot of late sown Maris Piper which is still green and waiting to be lifted. I expect Fianna and Morene are in the same boat, but as Cara is particularly late it could be in an even worse position.

"This season highlights the versatility of early maturing and rapid bulking types such as Estima, Marfona, Nadine and Saxon."