AHDB estimates show small drop in potato planted area

The UK planted area for potatoes has held up despite a turbulent season for growers, according to the AHDB.

The UK planted area for potatoes has held up despite a turbulent season for growers, according to the AHDB.

Provisional estimates show the planted area in Great Britain at 119Kha, which, if correct, shows only a 1 per cent drop on last year. The fall takes into account revisions to the 2019 planted area data since September.

The figures suggest a minimal impact from the coronavirus crisis on planting decisions, as many growers had already made plans by the time the pandemic hit, AHDB says.

Although it is early days, the 2020/21 UK potato crop could be 5.4Mt if the average yield is 45t/ha. Lower yields are anticipated on the early crops due to frosts in mid-May but yields on maincrop potatoes are looking relatively robust. The estimate, at 45t/ha, would mean a rise in production compared to last year, despite a drop in the planted area.

AHDB analyst Alice Bailey said: “Despite the wet weather hampering early planting, conditions changed dramatically when it came to the maincrop. For some growers the conditions bordered on too dry.

“When comparing these projected production figures with last year, it’s important to remember that some of the 2019 crop couldn’t be harvested. Our current estimate of 5.4Mt assumes that the entire planted area for this season can be lifted out the ground.”

Although there was some initial concern about cold soil temperatures earlier this year, temperatures rose throughout April. Despite this, a bout of frost in mid-May could still impact the yield of some crops.

While rain returned during June, the impact varied over the country but generally provided a boost to crops.

The warm weather throughout spring brought other challenges for growers, however, with aphids causing problems this season. Those affected can use the aphid and virus tools available on AHDB’s website.

The return of wet weather brought the threat of late blight. Blightwatch issued a number of warnings around the UK prompting concern. The service is run jointly by AHDB and the Met Office, and uses criteria developed by the James Hutton Institute to warn growers of potential outbreaks by email.

Full updates of 2019 potato production in Great Britain will be published by 10th July. The figures will be broken down by region and sector, and include updates to stock data.

The latest figures will be discussed at AHDB’s Potato Markets and Marketing webinar on 6th July. Register here: ahdb.org.uk/…/potato-markets-and-marketing

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