Potato yields in Britain are down significantly this season due to the hot, dry spring and early summer weather, and for growers putting spuds into cold storage there is the double whammy of higher electricity costs along with lower tuber numbers, as Marianne Curtis reports for Farmers Weekly.
“Unirrigated potatoes usually average 55t/ha – this season we’re looking at 40t/ha and maybe a bit below,” says Mark Means of JS Means Farms, near King’s Lynn in north-west Norfolk.
“Irrigated potatoes usually average 55-60t/ha, but some haven’t made 50t/ha. We would normally expect 50% of the crop to be bakers, but we are seeing about 30% – and some as low as 10-15%,” he adds.
“The scary part is storage – we are losing money storing potatoes. The cost of electricity was about £21-22/t for long-term storage on the farm last year,” he says. This season, before the government announced the new electricity discount for businesses, prices had reached £82/t – an annual cost of £120,000.