With dry weather exacerbating the risk of bruising potatoes at harvest, the UK Potato Council has called on growers to take a proactive stance and make quality assessments at all stages of harvesting, from lifting to store loading.
"In addition to costing growers an estimated £26 million per year, bruising does untold damage to consumer confidence." says Potato Council technical executive Gary Collins. "Undamaged potatoes are the first thing shoppers look for.
"Growers shouldn't adopt the ‘one size fits all' approach to harvester setup; the harvester settings should be altered for each crop in accordance with soil conditions," he urges.
Scottish Agronomy senior agronomist Eric Anderson says: "Ideally, field samples should be taken in advance of harvest and put through a system such as a bruise barrel to test bruise susceptibility. These samples should then be hot-boxed and assessed for bruising and damage. This will highlight the crops most at risk from harvesting and grading damage, allowing a grower to choose to harvest fields with the lowest risk first.
"Alternatively, open up a field with the harvester and take representative tuber samples a day or so before committing to lifting the whole field. Bruising can vary between fields, so sometimes it is well worth leaving one area and returning to it at a later date."
For more detailed information go to www.potato.org.uk/growing/bruising