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Scottish seed potato production expected dip below 10,000 hectares for the first time in many, many years

Potato volumes expected to be low despite good growing conditions

The UK potato sector has been going through a better spell this year, but it did take a long time for the potato shortage to feed back to growers as there was still crop from the previous year on the market and the prices didn’t increase until around mid-May.

“These better prices may be sustained through the winter as there has been a reduction in planting in both 2022 and 2023,” according to Robert Doig from Caledonia Potatoes.

At the moment the growing conditions in Scotland for both ware and seed potatoes are looking positive, after a very dry May and June there has been plenty of rain so far in July. The main harvest will start in September in Scotland.


Photo: Caledonia Potatoes

“Volumes will be short this year regardless of the yields as many growers have stopped growing potatoes after too many bad years. The fresh produce trade in general has been crushed by big retail for years and more recently by Brexit, followed by high energy costs and lack of labour. Unfortunately, in the potato trade growers don’t tend to come back due to high capital investment. For those who have survived it has been a couple of very scary years.”

Although prices have been better this year, inflation has taken a way profit growers might have had.

Seed growers have not faired any better, growers lost a huge part of their export market when the European market was closed to them after Brexit, and to add insult to injury European seed growers found a loophole which allowed them to send seed to the UK. British growers had already started to grow varieties to fill the gap which they expected to emerge when there were no European seed potatoes on the market.

There is some positive news though, British growers can send seed to Northern Ireland where it can be grow then sent to Europe, “We have not done this as yet, but will look at it later in the year but it will be small scale as there is not the land base or growers in Northern Ireland to do it on a big scale.”

Since the closing of the European market for seed, no new markets have opened for Scottish seed potatoes, growers have just focussed on the current markets. The Scottish Government has not yet released the figures but Rob expects we will see seed potato production dip below 10,000 hectares for the first time in many, many years.

For more information:
Robert Doig
Caledonia Potatoes
Tel: +441738 446 723
robert@caledoniapotatoes.com