Potato planting ahead of last year

Potato planting is making good progress in many parts of the country and progress is well ahead of last year, according to latest British Potato Council (BPC) figures.

Up to 28 April, the total area planted was estimated at 82,200 ha, compared with 57,200 ha (38%) in 2005, 64,000ha (49%) in 2004 and 119,000 ha (95%) in 2003.

While progress is ahead of last year nationally, there are considerable regional variations, with many growers on heavier soils waiting for land to dry out before continuing planting, said the BPC’s Rob Burrow.

Good progress has been made in the south, west and east (e.g. Norfolk and Lincolnshire 90% complete, Cambridge and Essex, 75%), while many in Yorkshire and Lancashire have been delayed by recent rain and planting is behind last year, he said.

In Scotland planting was uninterrupted over the past week, which has allowed growers to make excellent progress. It is estimated that 35-40% of the Scottish crop has been completed compared with 12% this time last year.

Some growers however, particularly seed producers, are still resisting making a start until soil temperatures improve further, Mr Burrow noted.