Spud growers could face seed delivery delay

British ware potato growers are being warned there may be delays in timely delivery of certified seed onto farm this year due to the poor weather.

There has been very little movement of seed stocks out of Scotland, where the majority of British seed is produced and with limited suitable seed storage on many farms, ware growers will be looking for just-in-time delivery.

With potato land due to be planted in 2014 extremely wet in key ware potato growing areas, growers are nervous about having seed delivered until there is a prolonged dry period to allow land to drain.

Seed merchant Agrico UK’s executive director Archie Gibson told Farmers Weekly that it would be difficult for them to meet demand if all orders came at once.

“Our customers have to understand that we cannot just ‘pull a rabbit out of a hat’ as it were, it will take time for us to process the orders and get them dispatched,” he added.

Agrico UK sell 80% of their seed stock into the British market, most of which is on a wholesale basis to the packers and processors, who have direct growing contracts with ware potato growers.

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Currently they have orders for 90% of this, but are waiting for customer dressing instructions – when and where to deliver – for most of it and once a drier spell arrives, growers will be crying out for seed at the same time.

In addition to the logistical challenges of meeting high simultaneous demand when land dries out, there could also be the scenario where deliveries don’t make farms at all due to continued wet.

“These difficulties could be avoided by growers investing in their own seed storage, so seed can be delivered early and wait for the correct planting conditions on farm,” said Mr Gibson.

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