POTATO LIFTING is likely to be at least a week behind normal in many areas as growers wait for crops to bulk up after recent rain, says the British Potato Council (BPC).
While forward crops are approaching market specification and lifting, desiccation of many planted in late spring – particularly in Scotland – is being delayed.
Seed crops in Perthshire in particular appear to have been affected by dry weather earlier this summer and in a few cases yields of only 12t/ha have been reported, the BPC said.
“Many crops in Scotland were planted a lot later – well into June for some,” explained market analyst, Rob Burrow.
“In certain cases recent rain will have come too late, but where crops came through the dry period in June and still have green tops, growers are leaving them to bulk up.”
The BPC estimates that up to the end of last week (w/e Aug 21), 13,400ha have been harvested, compared to 17,300ha at the same time last year.
Piper crops in particular are reported to be small and need around another two weeks of ideal weather in order to get the best out of them, the BPC said.
Whether crops are close to, or still some way off desiccation, growers should maintain a tight blight spray programme until the haulm is completely dead, added ADAS’s Nick Bradshaw.
“Also, following haulm desiccation, sufficient time should be allowed for all the haulm to die before lifting to further minimise the risk of tuber infection.”
Wet and unsettled conditions could delay spraying and possibly allow a late flare up of the disease, so the BPC recommends growers continue to monitor local blight pressure via www.potato.org.uk/blight