GB potato area: first estimate

Friday, 3 July 2020

The AHDB’s first estimate for the total GB potato area for 2020/21 is 119Kha*. Since publication in September, the 2019 area estimate has been revised upwards to 120Kha**, meaning that our provisional estimate shows a 1% drop year-on-year. However, as there is a significant amount of data still to be collated this is just a provisional estimate and is likely to change.


It was suggested at the time of planting, that growers were generally continuing with their original intentions. It is thought that the coronavirus pandemic struck the UK too late in order for planting decisions to be drastically changed. Commitments had already been made by growers and therefore altering intentions would not be easy.

The 2020 season to now

Early planting was severely delayed across GB due to the wet winter experienced. However, by the time maincrop planting came round, conditions had changed drastically. For many, planting conditions were near ideal but for some it was edging on too dry. Difficult to believe after the autumn/winter we had.

Soils were a touch on the cold side at planting but temperatures soon rose throughout April. Two nights of frost in mid-May knocked some early crops back a couple of weeks and will likely have had an effect on the yields of these crops. Irrigation was generally utilised by those with access to it throughout May and early June. Rainfall throughout June has been somewhat variable across GB but it has certainly helped green crops up over the past few weeks. 

Crop prospects

There is talk of some slightly reduced yields in the early crops being lifted but maincrop on the whole is looking okay. It is still quite early to judge but current expectation is for an average crop although dryness could still cause some problems going forwards.

If average yields of 45t/ha were achieved we could be facing a crop of around 5.4Mt for the 2020/21 season. This would be a rise in production from 2019/20 despite a drop in the planted area but we must remember that a decent proportion of the 2019 planted crop was unable to be lifted in optimum conditions and this estimate assumes the entire planted area is lifted.

The recent warm and wet weather has brought with it its own challengers. Aphids seem to have been of particular concern in recent times. The AHDB has an aphid and virus page with an array of information including aphid forecasting and monitoring tools which could be useful to you. Other concerns growers currently have are surrounding late blight. Again, the AHDB has a dedicated late blight page with useful information and links to tools.

Stay up to date

We will be updating our area estimate and releasing a full breakdown of the planted area by variety, region and market sector once more data is available later in the summer. This will be announced, and linked to, in our Potato Weekly publication along with the weekly free-buy prices and general market commentary.

2019 Update

The 1% upwards revision to the 2019/20 planted area is now based on 98% of levy returns. Due to delays in receiving planting data last season, the previous area estimate for 2019 was based off of 90% of returns,

Full updates of our GB production, including by region and sector, as well as updates to stock data will be released by July 10th.

Additional information

* This initial estimate is provisional, based on a sample covering 60% of producers by area. As with all estimates based on a sample, results should be treated with caution. Despite every effort being made to make the sample representative, the planting decisions made by those not included in the sample may differ from those who are included. Statistical 95% confidence limits for the estimate are +/-1.9%, which means that the final figure for 2020 could lie anywhere in the range from 116,698ha to 121,302ha.

** A proportion of late and updated returns were received in 2019. This data was not available when we updated the 2019 estimate in September. To make our estimate as accurate as possible we have included these returns in our calculations. This means that the previously reported figure of 118,953ha is now 120,254ha with 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.3% (119,937ha to 120,571ha).


Alice Bailey

Senior Analyst Potatoes

Sign up for regular updates

You can subscribe to receive Potato Weekly straight to your inbox. Simply fill in your contact details on our online form and select the information you wish to receive.

Visit the Keep in touch page