The Potato Council's provisional estimate of total production in Britain for the 2011 crop year was announced yesterday. The total crop estimate is 6.053 million tonnes, up 3.5% from 2010.
The current crop has a planted area that is 0.4% lower than last year, at 126,328 ha. However, average yields per hectare are higher at 47.9 t/ha versus 46.1 t/ha last year, a 3.9% increase.
Although total plantings are the lowest since 2005, the estimated average yield is the highest since 2002. With the dry and warm conditions many crops produced good yields and in general a bolder crop than last season.
The start of this season, in contrast to last year, was dry and unusually warm, being one of the warmest across the UK since 1910, according to Met Office figures. Therefore planting tracked ahead of 2010 and the crop got off to a good start.
The weather changed later in the year, with average UK summer rainfall 18 per cent above normal, followed by a period of unseasonably warm, settled weather in late September and early October. This brought sunshine and temperatures of up to 30°C to many parts of the UK, and by the start of October, over 60 per cent of the crop was estimated to be harvested, compared to just under 46 per cent at the same time last year.