Wet weather hampers early spud harvest

By FWi staff

WET weather across much of England is hampering the lifting of early potatoes. Yields nationally are averaging 15.5 tonnes/ha with prices today at about £356/ tonne.

Overnight rain in Cornwall is disrupting the harvest, according to the British Potato Council this morning. But crops are now starting to bulk and are generally looking much better. Post-April planted crops are now starting to emerge under plastic.

In Pembrokeshire, lifting is also restricted because of wet field conditions. But demand remains subdued and prices have eased back. Yields are currently ranging 12-27 tonnes/ha, with an average of about 19 tonnes/ha.

Showers today were expected to slow the harvest in Kent. Growers are advised to maintain blight spraying, although the BPC reports that some Arran Comet potatoes are senescing. Yields on some farms are as high as 28 tonnes/ha.

In Cheshire, the most advanced early crops are now in full flower. Yields of new crop are averaging 12-18tonnes/ha. Yesterdays rain benefited most crops and stocks are adequate for a steady trade which is increasingly demanding bulk supplies.

Heavy rainfall in Lincolnshire has prevented field work on silty soils, with harvesting being possible only on the lightest land. Potato quality remains good, although the threat is foliar blight is still very much a reality. Growers are advised to be vigilant.

Crops in Suffolk and Essex are benefiting from recent warm and wet weather. Lifting today is expected to total about 260 tonnes. Most yields are ranging 12-16 tonnes/ha and averaging £20 tonnes/ha.

The weather has improved in Scotland, although waterlogged fields mean little progress has been made in planting. A slight increase in the volume lifted in south-west Scotland has seen ex-farm prices ease back to £500/ tonne.

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