Harvest 2004: Potato progress

AS MANY growers make a start on lifting main crop potatoes, earlier wet weather has brought concerns of rot and blight in some crops.

On the whole potatoes seem to be doing well in most parts of the UK, although parts of south-west England are suffering from problems with rot brought on by one of the wettest Augusts ever recorded.

Norfolk farmer Richard Beevor told FARMERS WEEKLY Harvest Highlights he has harvested about a quarter of his potatoes. “The ones we‘ve lifted so far have been good but there are some variable potatoes to come. Some just haven‘t made the size.”

“It‘s been a very funny year. In May our irrigators just managed to keep up with the dry spell and then we got 7 inches of rain in August. It‘s been just too wet in some places.”

He sells 3,500 tonnes of potatoes for pre-pack while another 500 tonnes are sold to local chip shops.

Sandy Walker started lifting his early potatoes in June. He has not stored any and will start lifting the bulk of the maincrop soon on his farm near Telford, Shrops.

Will Hemus near Nuneaton, Warks said: “[Potato] Yield will be ok but the test will be how much rot and blight will be going into the store.”

Tim Hardstaff near Linby, Notts is a quarter of the way through his onion harvest, but said “We‘re struggling with this patchy weather”. He hopes to start lifting his potatoes in the next couple of weeks.

Andrew Milne from Philip Wilson Grain in Roxburghshire, Scotland said the harvest is 95% done. “There‘s still a little bit of spring rape to do, some linseed and a few fields of wheat.”

Meanwhile, Stuart Fuller-Shapcott is pleased to have finally finished his harvest (September 12) after a very challenging year in the Scottish borders.

According to FWi weather services most of the UK will remain dry with sunny spells, with only the north sea cost and north Wales having chances of showers.

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