At the start of the season, Scottish fields were too dry, and some growers had to irrigate their crops because the dry conditions meant that their potatoes were getting bruised as they came through harvesters. Now, growers are facing the opposite problem: continuous rainfall since the start of the month has left harvesters sitting idle in sheds or struggling in sticky fields.
Seed potato grower Jim Reid from Milton of Mathers near St Cyrus, who is the host of levy body AHDB’s strategic potato farm in Scotland, talked about the 2020 potato season, saying: “The first half was dry, which could result in tuber bruising, although we haven’t seen any yet. As well as severe wet weather at the start of October we had another 50mm of rain in our area last week. We had harvested 165 tonnes of potatoes on October 18 but the excessive rain meant we had to delay for eight days.”
He said having to wait for land to drain before completing the potato harvest would have a knock-on effect on other operations on the farm.
NFU Scotland potatoes chairman Peter Grewar, who grows potatoes in Perthshire and the Black Isle, said conditions in September and this month were on two completely different ends of the scale:: “September was extremely positive for most in the potato sector with a lot of seed potatoes able to be lifted in the good weather. With October’s average rainfall of 93.6mm being almost reached within the first four days, it is easy to see how we can be set for the wettest October in 25 years. The only way to describe potato farming during this October is drudgery.”