Harvest is well under way and in some cases finished although it has been very much a stop-start affair, depending on where you are in the country.
Rain has made conditions somewhat tricky in places although generally the amount of soil going into store has been minimal. Size and quality seems to be extremely inconsistent with some huge differences in yield too.
Interestingly, there seems to be a trend towards crops grown from larger seed outperforming those grown from smaller seed. Any crops with underlying stress issues seem to have suffered worse this year and it really does bring home the fact that attention to detail is key.
Already some storage issues are coming to light, remember common scab is a wound through which disease can enter and moisture can be lost, so getting curing right is a must. Other problems I have seen include pink rot and waterlogged tubers. Therefore stores should be monitored closely to make sure everything is keeping as it should.
As soon as my clients finish harvest and have time to gather their thoughts, I start talking to them about next year. Indeed, most have already got next year’s fields sorted out. PCN testing early gives you the opportunity to reject fields, if necessary. But it also helps with variety selection, especially if you know what species you are dealing with.
I always like to walk next year’s fields in the autumn so I can get a feel for what they are like. What is the soil type like? Is there any compaction? What is the weed spectrum? Are there any volunteers? All these questions play an important part in the planning process for the coming year and are a crucial in getting the attention to detail right.