Sunday, 01 May 2016

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The UK crop harvest to 9th October is estimated to be up on last year's figures.

Reports from the British Potato Council say the crop has been estimated at 92,850 ha (71.3 per cent), compared to 75,200 ha (58.7 per cent) in 2008.

Rain arrived in many regions last week, although amounts varied from 6-12 mm in the East, up to 25 mm in Kent and Essex. Ground conditions have improved, but harvesting was delayed at times.

The water was welcomed by most growers, particularly those without irrigation, as the
showers have softened clods and gone some way to reduce bruising levels. Some crops continue to be irrigated pre-lifting in parts of the East. In other regions irrigation, used to soften soils pre-harvest, has made soils too wet and either slowed activities or, in a few cases, halted progress.

In the South most crops have been lifted, however a few growers who were stopped by heavy rain during the middle of last week and a few were delayed by lack of storage, with small areas to complete. In the West, storage programmes are well advanced, particularly in Herefordshire where clearance is near completion. However a shortage of boxes has slowed some growers who have had to make temporary bale clamps to accommodate crops.

Harvest progress remains ahead of last year by around a week. However, activities may now become slower as colder early morning temperatures are already delaying the start of harvesting each day.

Harvesting wastage varies widely with highest levels reported in in the East and South and more average levels in the West and North. According to growers Maris Piper are showing around 10-12 per cent on lifting and other varieties between 2-10 per cent. In Holland around 50 per cent of crops are harvested and in Belgium 40 per cent, both have now had rain but lifting conditions are difficult and wastage is high.

In Scotland lifting proceeded in almost ideal conditions last week, although even in the softer ground compared to England there are reports of bruising in a few crops. Some growers have completed lifting, whilst others are finding problems due to lack of boxes for storage.

Common Scab is affecting some crops and a few rots are reported, although generally quality is described as good this season.

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