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Weather problems become apparent in UK potato crop

UK potato growers are starting to lift their crops. These have seen difficult conditions and the goods are being sold into an uncertain market. Most potatoes were planted in very good conditions as the wet winter gave way to a drier spring just in time. Then, however, followed one of the coldest April’s on record, which in turn was followed by a very wet May and then a mixed summer with some heat but plenty of rain.

One Kent-based grower said: “The first two weeks of June were hot and sunny and then the rain fell and we have a lot less sunshine than normal ever since. In some places we are seeing yields 10-15 tons/hectare behind where they should be.”

With growers now burning off crops, yields are locked. Quality is reasonable, although growers have had to apply regular blight sprays to prevent disease spread and wireworm was also a problem. The situation has been less difficult in Lincolnshire, according to agronomist Simon Faulkner, of SDF Agriculture, but there have been and remain challenges to complete the growing season along with a lot of potato crop variability.

“Some yields appear to have potential when you do a trial dig and in other place yields almost seem to be going backwards,” he told “In many places the soil moisture deficits [SMD] are rising and we are seeing increases in dry matter. Some growers have held off irrigating a few weeks ago expecting more rain than actually fell and where rain has not materialised, those crops would have benefited from water to bulk them up.”

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