Growers in the north are starting to focus on this year’s potato crop, but the legacy of last season remains and whatever sector they are involved in, it’s been a painful experience for many.
Ware growers have only recently seen an uplift in volumes leaving stores. Seed growers have had to deal with difficult export markets and are waiting in anticipation for orders to clear their stores of seed bound for England – some may be disappointed, especially if the varieties grown were destined for the prepack sector.
Ware producers seem to be heeding the advice to cut production in the hope that this will help to raise prices. Seed growers are having to deal with a considerable amount of change in the varieties and contracts being offered to them to grow by seed merchants. The temptation to grow a bit of Hermes or Maris piper on spec will need to be avoided if there’s to be any chance of stronger markets this season.
In the field its a bit a bit early for seed planting, but there has been some ware planted up here and ground is being ridged and destoned for Maris Peer salad crops. Soil temperatures are between 5-7C. Planting of these crops should begin around the 23 March and some may be fleeced to allow lifting in late June if the weather cooperates.
However, the prize for the earliest planted crop up here goes to P3 at Milnes primary school in Fochabers, who got their crop in the ground in the last week of February. They are taking part in the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative (RNCI) “Totally tatties” competition and are up against 40 other schools to see who can grow the biggest crop of Safiyah. The competition is keen – especially amongst the farmers and agronomists who support each class!