Spud Watch: Wet spring holds back planting progress

Like the rest of the country, we’ve been in cold storage for the last month and little has been done out on the land.

March in the Moray Firth area was wetter than average, although nothing like as wet as down the east coast of Scotland, where up to 150mm of rain fell in March, and April has continued to be wet.

Soil temperatures are also well below the March average of 5.5C by about 2C. The only places enjoying the weather are the ski resorts, which are having a great time.

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There’s been little action drilling spring cereals, let alone any planting of potatoes. A couple of growers have made attempts to get ware planted and there’s been a limited amount of deep ridging and destoning of land for salad crops, but progress has been slow.

Some potash fertiliser has been applied to ploughed land.

Currently the most pressing issue is movement of seed. With everything on hold in England and stores full of seed down there, seed growers in the north are also having to hold stock and stop dressing new orders.

This means that there’s going to be a severe bottleneck later in April trying to get haulage to go south. Also, the effect of storing seed in 1.25t bags over extended periods won’t do the 2018 crop any favours.

Decanting bags into boxes is the ideal solution, but that’s difficult when space and time are limited. Priority is best given to the varieties with the highest blackleg risk and to try to make sure they are kept in the best available storage with temperature controlled and good air movement if possible.