Farmer Focus: Potato harvest is our key concern

Harvest is behind us now. We, like most, had an early start and made swift progress through the first three-quarters. The weather then turned a little catchier, making the tail end more frustrating.

Overall, results have been reasonable, with quality generally good. Yields appear to be down about 15%, which is not as bad as I originally thought given that the majority of our land is towards the lighter end of the spectrum.

The exception is the spring beans – the less said about that the better.

See also: Top tips on tackling pests when establishing OSR

The kind conditions means all our oilseed rape has been drilled into decent seed-beds with a bit of moisture.

We can now spend the next month walking it every couple of days, making sure it is still there and the various assorted pests are controlled as best we can.

I have also taken the opportunity to drill an increased area of stubble turnips to try to fill our forage shortfall.

Potato problems

The start of a new season also means a new placement student. We recently said goodbye to Katie, who put in a sterling performance over the past year, and have welcomed Kim in her place.

Potato harvest is now our key concern. We are seeing many problems associated with the hot weather and lack of rainfall.

Yields are proving highly variable depending on location and availability of water through irrigation and soil type.

The unirrigated early crops have proved to be particularly disappointing, but the maincrop varieties look to have more potential.

Secondary growth – something we have not seen a lot of for a long time – is also proving to be a concern that will need careful storage planning and management.

To a man, all my customers appear to accept that lower yields are going to mean higher prices. The problem is that they don’t want to be the one in the chain standing it.

Price inflation when it is beyond our control needs to be shared between the processor, retailer and consumer.