Potato planting a week behind normal

Cold and wet conditions mean potato planting is about a week behind normal, according to Rob Burrow of the Potato Council.

Total plantings were estimated at 13,700ha on 4 April, compared with 41,600 ha at the same time last year, when very dry conditions quickly dried soils. In a more normal year, the figure would typically be around 20,000 ha, he said.

Greenvale technical director, Paul Coleman said planting was progressing “steadily” and although soil temperatures had only reached around four degrees over recent days, crops would not have to endure such conditions for too much longer, he said.

The late planting had “spooked” the market, he said, but it would probably only result in a few day’s delay at harvest. “Looking back to previous years, we would expect to see planting now, with harvest dates met regardless of when they went in.”

By Tuesday (8 April) most progress had been made in Pembrokeshire into ideal conditions, and planting had been possible for some in the south and west, but those on heavier land had been able to do very little, Mr Burrow said.

The east had received more rain over the past couple of weeks, resulting in mixed progress with only growers on sandy soil being able to move. Ground in the north and Scotland remained wet and cold, resulting in minor progress. An estimated 320ha had been completed in Scotland.