Farmer Focus: Potato prices dampen spirits, says Martin Lawrenson

The last few weeks have gone well, due to some cracking weather.

Harvest finished finally on 11 September with the last of the Alchemy winter wheat coming off at 14% moisture. Yields have been just above average with quality good.

With the weather settled it allowed the wife and I the opportunity to accept a kind invitation from our bank to join them at the Westmorland Show. Although only half-an-hour down the road, near Kendal, we have never been able to go to as it usually coincides with the last days of harvest or drilling time.

I can honestly say we will be making the effort to go again as we had a great time. It felt like a proper “farming” show with a large range of machinery exhibitors and a fantastic livestock section. Judging by the amount of visitors wearing wellies and workboots on a hot sunny day, it would appear to attract a lot of farmers as well.

Much to my wife’s despair though, we did leave early as the thought of the combine sat idle in the field at home finally got too much for me.

As we are start storing potatoes, prices seem to show no signs of improving. If this isn’t enough to dampen my spirits, I visited a local newly opened supermarket the other day to have a look around. As always I went to look at what potatoes they were selling and prices on the shelf. I was amazed to find unwashed potatoes branded as “great value” being sold at 99p/kilo. That equates to a 25kg bag for £25 and almost £1000/t. As we are currently getting around £80/t for the same variety and a better quality sample it is clear growers are getting a raw deal once again.

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