Spud Special: Potato harvest well underway in Scotland

The potato harvest is well underway now in the north after a late start. The cool and at times, wet, summer has meant crops were never able to catch up on their late start in the spring and harvest was at least 7-10 days later in getting underway.

Conditions in September have largely been good for lifting and around the Moray Firth, fields are being cleared in good time and some growers have harvested over 50% of their crops. Down the east coast of Scotland land is wetter and its slowing lifting. Skin set is proving to be slow and holding up the clearance of some fields.

Crop yields are described as average or slightly above, but within that there is a lot of variation – the weather this year has caused some varieties to perform much better than others and factors such as planting date, field aspect, local weather and variety are having much more influence on the final yield than you would normally see.

Crop quality overall is good – the only disease causing some concern is powdery scab, which can be found in susceptible varieties. Again, its presence very much depends on the locality and field conditions through the summer.

The seed export market is about to commence for this season, with the first crops being graded imminently for movement to the Far East markets. The main market is Egypt and grading for that destination is at least a month away yet, however, given the late harvesting it’s going to be a tight turnaround to get crops into store and in the right condition to ship overseas. After some issues with crops exported early last season everyone is keen to avoid a repeat performance, so patience is going to be required to allow stocks the chance to stabilise in store before they are graded and shipped.

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