Cold slows early potato planting progress

Cold and wet weather has brought early potato planting to a halt in many areas and slowed progress elsewhere, according to latest British Potato Council (BPC) reports.

Progress so far this season has fallen behind last year, with an estimated 2,000 ha completed up to 10 March, compared with 2,200 ha in 2005.

Most progress has been made in Cornwall, Lincolnshire and Pembrokeshire, but temperatures remain too cold for rapid crop development, said the BPC’s Rob Burrow.

Recent frosts do not appear to have caused serious damage to forward emerged crops, but the lack of sunshine in some areas means that use of polythene covers has offered little benefit and growth is falling behind last year, he said.

Planting has been badly disrupted in northern England and Scotland due to wet weather and considerable snowfall – the only limited progress has been in southwest Scotland, where around 10ha was completed last week (w/e 12 March), Mr Burrow added.

With no signs of a rapid improvement in soil temperatures, maincrop planting is yet to get underway, but some growers in the east (e.g. Bedfordshire) could start this week (w/c 13 March) if the weather allows, he said.

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