GB potato lifting progress

Friday, 4 October 2019

By WE01 October, the total maincrop area lifted is estimated at 23% of the total area surveyed (c.88% of the GB area). Maincrop progress is reported against total area of surveyed regions, including earlies but excluding seed.
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Overview

The main start to lifting was WE17 September, with occasional crops lifted during the fortnight before. By the end of this week, 8% of the surveyed area had been lifted, with a good start made in the East of England, West Midlands and Scotland. Small areas had also been lifted in parts of the East Midlands and Yorkshire. Steady progress was made during WE24 September, with a further 7% of the surveyed area cleared.

Conditions during these weeks were dry for most, with soils in many locations dry, increasing the risk of bruising. In some parts of the East of England, irrigation was necessary to soften the soils sufficiently to allow lifting without damaging the crop.

Conversely, Scottish progress was hampered during September due to unsettled conditions. By WE01 October, a slight increase was noted in the pace of lifting (9% area cleared), with more crops ready and rain early in the week improving lifting conditions. However, heavy rain later in the week rapidly moved ground conditions from too dry to too wet, with some soils already at capacity and standing water reported in the worst affected areas.

Yield

Current estimated national yield ranges between 44-46t/ha.

Farm yields range from 15-75t/ha. The East Midlands has reported some of the poorest yields, from crops affected by June’s heavy rainfall. This resulted in partial crop failures and high level of defects for some. However, some of the best yields also came from the East Midlands, from locations not affected by the heavy rainfall.

Most regions are reporting yields slightly above average, the exception being the East of England. However, by WE01 October, the East had yet to start lifting its better crops.

Quality

Overall, quality is good. Good skin finish and low levels of wastage are reported throughout. September’s dry conditions for most of England increased the risk of bruising. However, they also reduced blight pressure ad allowed spray programmes to be applied at the appropriate times. Showers in the early part of WE01 October allowed for easier lifting and a reduction in bruising. There were occasional reports of tuber defects linked to Potato Virus Y (PVY), affecting a number of varieties mostly from English seed.

Unharvested crop

Black leg concerns are mounting with the change in the weather. The risk of blight infection is increased, with a number of Hutton periods reported in the last week of September. Heavy rainfall since the latter part of WE01 October have led to the expectation that potatoes harvested will require increased levels of cleaning, leading to a rise in bruising risk.

Vikki Campbell

Arable Market Specialist Manager

Sector Review

Yield

Current GB yield estimate between 44-46t/ha. This is from the limited areas that grow fresh chipping potatoes (predominantly East Midlands, West Midlands and East of England).

Farm yields range from 35-65t/ha. Higher yields reported off peat soil, where lifting took place in drier periods. Lower yields from those affected by seed borne viruses.

Quality

Overall quality of potatoes lifted to WE01 October is good. Dry matters are within specification, fry colour meeting specifications of 00-1.

Dry matter: ranging between 20-23%. Lower dry matter from Yorkshire crops. East of England dry matters slightly higher.

Fry colour: meeting specification of 00-1, with no reports of rejections. Some reports of samples reaching 2, where crops were affected by water stress.

Size: variable, but close to average, with typical 10kg sacks holding 60-63 tubers.

Wastage: up to 10%, but typically less than 5%. Causes of wastage include Black leg and greens in the West Midlands, and slug damage in the East Midlands. Occasional crops in the East Midlands were severely affected by seed borne viruses, lowering yields and increasing growth cracking and wastage.

Yield

Current GB national yield estimate is between 46-48t/ha.

Farm yields are ranging from 39-61t/ha, with higher yields from early maturing varieties. Lower yields have been coming from East of England crops grown on heavier soils. These proved difficult to lift in during early September’s dry weather.

Quality

Overall quality of potatoes lifted to WE01 October is good, despite lifting troubles on difficult ground conditions. Tuber sizes are good, with some oversized tubers from Lady Rosetta and Taurus where dry soils delayed lifting.

Internal issues: some reports of browning and Verticillium wilt. These have been attributed to heavy rainfall and where potatoes in some regions have sat in standing water.

Dry matters: good, averaging 22% and ranging between 17-23%.

Fry colour: reported as good throughout, typically 0-1. Some reports of 00.

Size: generally good, with 10kg chipping sacks holding 60-63 tuber count and 10kg crisping samples between 64-70.

Wastage: very little reported. Rejection reasons include Black leg and cracking. Slightly higher wastage seen in some Scottish areas due to rot in tubers damaged by wet weather.

Yield

Current estimate of GB national yield is between 45-48t/ha.

East of England yields are lower than other regions, typically around 44t/ha. However, they have yet to start lifting the better crops.

Farm yields have ranged from 15t/ha (from land affected by rain-inflicted crop losses in June) through to 65t/ha (typically fenland peat fields).

Quality

Overall quality of potatoes lifted to WE01 October is good.

Skin finish: better than average, aided by low levels of scab. Sensitive varieties, such as Maris Piper, have good skin finishes to date.

Internal issues: no significant reports. Occasional localised reports for spraing and some internal browning of Maris Piper. Skin set slower for some Scottish varieties (e.g. Charlotte), where conditions have been wetter.

Shape: predominantly good for potatoes lifted to WE01 October. Occasional problems with growth cracks where there were irrigation issues, or heavy rain, earlier in the season.

Wastage: mixed reports. Very few issues reported in Yorkshire and East of England. East Midlands, West Midlands and Scotland reporting slightly higher than normal wastage (10-30%). Typical causes of wastage include greening and misshapes, with occasional rots. In Scotland and West Midlands, slug damage also resulted in some wastage.

Yield

Current GB estimates ranging between 43-45t/ha.

Farm yields ranging between 35-60t/ha. Yorkshire and West Midlands reporting the lowest yields, with seed borne viruses affected some of the crop.

Quality

Overall quality of potatoes lifted to WE01 October is good.

Internal issues:  some reports of spraing, predominantly localised to the West Midlands. Some reports of growth cracks where crops have been poorly irrigated, or associated with viruses.

Size: variable across all regions, with no reports of oversized tubers. Bag counts of 150 tubers per 25kg are typical.

Wastage: reported as low, with samples showing good skin finishes and no major quality issues so far.

Report Information

This lifting report has been prepared by ADAS for the AHDB, using data supplied by regional reporters (mostly independent potato agronomists). It focusses on maincrop potatoes from the main potato growing regions in GB (c.88% of the GB area). Maincrop progress is reported against total area of surveyed regions, including earlies but excluding seed. For regions including the South West, North West, Wales and the South East, where crop areas are smaller, or there is a focus on early potato production, the information provided is qualitative. Lifting progress, quality and yields are reported as current, so subject to change as lifting progresses.

For more information please contact the MI team by emailing potatoes.mi@ahdb.org.uk

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