Watch for variable quality as spuds go into store

Potato growers are being urged to closely check the quality of harvested crops before putting them into store to avoid unnecessary storage costs.

Many crops that did not receive irrigation during the dry spell in June and July are particularly suffering from problems such as sprouting in the ground, small tubers and common scab, explained Adrian Cunnington from the British Potato Council’s Sutton Bridge experimental unit.

Crops in the drier southeast and water dependent varieties such as King Edward have suffered most, he said. “On one farm in Norfolk, yields were in the region of 37t/ha, which was down by about 25% on normal.”

But in Scotland, the bulk of crops are “in good shape” and the yield and quality of varieties such as Saturna is as good as could be expected, he noted.

Blight is still present and Mr Cunnington advised growers not to get complacent. “There was a lot [of blight] in June and July and it hasn’t gone away. You have to be vigilant, as blight spores could be carried into store.

“You have to check quality before crops go into store, otherwise you could incur significant storage costs and find you can’t recoup them.”

Latest estimates from the BPC (15 Sept) indicate that 28,200 ha (22.1%) has been harvested so far compared with 36,900 ha (29.3%) last year. This equates to lifting being about 5-6 days behind last year’s progress.