Potato planting romps on in fine weather

Potato planting is well ahead of last season and the first token lifting has already taken place, following recent settled weather across many parts of the UK, according to the British Potato Council.

Some 41,600ha had been planted by the bank holiday weekend (6 April), around 15,000ha above the same time last year.

In Cornwall, the first token lifting of Rocket potatoes from pre-Christmas plantings occurred earlier this week, with crops mainly going for local sale. Harvest of post-Christmas planted crops is expected to start next week.

Prices increased slightly as growers turning to land work meant movement of supplies was slower over the past week. The GB average weekly price to 6 April was £176.90/t, compared with £164.91 the previous week and £118/t last year.

With the fine weather forecast to continue into this weekend, planting and early harvest prospects are looking good across most regions, even where growers have held back due to colder soils, said the BPC’s Rob Burrow.

But, in some parts of the south, soils have dried too rapidly and rain is necessary in the short term, he said.

Crops affected by earlier frosts are recovering well and other covered fields are also making excellent progress, he noted.