13 September 2001
Slightly behind on main-crop
PAUL COLEMAN of Greenvale in Cambridge says that 5% of the main crop is in store across East Anglia.
“Wed expect to be 10-15% done by now. It wont matter if we have good weather through September and October, but its wet already and it wont take a lot of rain to stop the harvesting.”
Most of the reasons for being behind at this stage is that the potatoes are taking a long time to finish.
“Piper, the processing varieties, Cara, King Edward and most other main-crop varieties are taking a long time to finish in terms of size and skin set.
“We have also had to wait for processing, because the tuber count is to high, but the dry matter is OK.”
The problem with potatoes bulking slowly is to do with senescing. “The rapid bulking through senescing is two weeks late.”
Some crops have been taken early at a smaller size.
“Its difficult to predict yields because in 15 years I have not seen such variation from variety to variety and farm to farm. Id guess there will be similar yields to last year.”
Quality has been reasonable so far. “Weve seen more common scab than in the last few years producing problems in packing. This has been caused by weather patterns at tuba initiation.
“There was a very dry period in June then it was wet and then dry. Getting the irrigation right has been very hard.”
He says there is some blackdot on packing varieties because crops are immature and skin set is taking longer.
There are not the same problems as the previous two years in terms of blight.
Talking about market conditions, he says early potatoes have been good for Cornish and Suffolk growers, making good returns on crops compared to previous years.
“Now there is a clash between second earlies and main crop. There is ample material which has caused prices to drop in the last two or three weeks.”
In his opinion, once sand-lands are cleared and more main crop is harvested, more will go into store, which will firm up prices.
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