Potato growers have overcome a second successive wet harvest to produce decent yields following a challenging season.
This year’s potato harvest is likely to reach 5.3m tonnes – up 2.8% on last year but just below the five-year average of 5.4m tonnes, according to estimates from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.
Growers have fared better than last year, with just 2% of the planted area yet to be lifted as Anglia Farmer went to press shortly after 10 November. This compares with 11% of the crop still in the ground on 12 November 2019.
This production figure follows an AHDB estimate that the planted area this year is the third lowest on record. This overall net yield sits in line with the five-year national average up to and including 2019.
AHDB senior analyst Alice Bailey said: “Anecdotal reports suggest that yields have been somewhat variable from farm to farm, even field to field. Yet overall, crops are within farm expectations so it is not surprising that the national yield is in line with recent years.
“We saw planted area drop by 2.3% this year, yet we are estimating a 2.8% rise in production. This is based on both a slight increase in yields year-on-year and the fact that a large area was left unharvested last year.”
The 2019 unlifted area was estimated at 6%, whereas less than 1% was estimated to be left in the ground in 2018. Ms Bailey said she we would anticipate similar this year.
The estimate could be amended in the coming weeks, with some potatoes still to harvest across eastern England – and some members of the 450 strong AHDB Grower Panel still to return their survey information.
A winter promotional campaign over the coming weeks will encourage shoppers to eat more potatoes. It follows a similar campaign in the summer that reached 5m shoppers via catch-up TV, social media and display advertising.
AHDB Potatoes strategy director Rob Clayton said the latest campaign was being launched in response to market conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. More details will be released soon.