Higher yields boost GB potato crop

Total GB potato production for the 2008 harvest was up significantly on last year to 5.8m tonnes, according to the first provisional estimate by the Potato Council.

The figure, based on a survey of 339 crops, was 7% higher than last season’s flood-hit harvest and came from a 2% lower planted area of 128,500ha. The main reason behind the larger tonnage was an increase in average yields, which were 9% up on 2007 at 45.1t/ha. That was just above the five-year average of 44.7t/ha.

Early harvested yields were down slightly at 28.3t/ha, compared with 31.8t/ha in 2007, but maincrop yields were up 5.2t/ha at 47.3t/ha.

Scottish yields did not fare as well as normal, largely due to the effect of cooler and wetter summer weather, the Potato Council’s Rob Burrow said. Average maincrop yields were 45.6t/ha, compared with 47.9t/ha last year.

With harvest now largely complete and some “suspect” quality crops coming out of store quickly, prices are feeling the pressure of the larger crop, Mr Burrow added.

The Potato Council’s weekly average price last week was £100/t, compared with £150/t at the same time last year. Large baking material was generally fetching £140/t, while general packing supplies were in the £90-110/t range, although higher prices were available for good quality material, he said.

The Potato Council will update its production estimate in January.