Tim Rooke, the chair of the NFU Potato Policy Group, has provided an update on the current potato lifting season and insights into the upcoming one.
Lifting is progressing, with some farmers having completed the process, while others are still in progress. The recent heavy rainfall has caused interruptions and, in some cases, crop damage. However, yields have shown resilience, recovering better than anticipated after late planting and the record-breaking heat experienced in June. Some farmers have reported quality issues due to wet conditions, emphasizing the need for careful storage considerations.
Looking ahead, Rooke highlighted the importance of planning for the next season. With the AHDB no longer providing a definitive figure for the ware planted area, there’s a noted decrease in the planted seed area. This, combined with a reduced seed inflow from Europe, raises concerns about seed availability for the next season. Farmers are advised to communicate with their seed suppliers early to understand availability.
On a positive note, as of 1 October, under the Windsor framework, seed potato exports to Northern Ireland have resumed. Efforts to restore the full UK-EU seed potato trade are ongoing. However, there have been challenges, such as the Canary Islands halting UK imports due to concerns about the Colorado potato beetle. While this issue seems largely resolved, it underscores the importance of being prepared for potential pest threats.
Rooke concluded by expressing hope for a smooth lifting process for all farmers and favorable weather conditions. He also mentioned looking forward to the BP2023 event and hopes that lifting would be completed by then.
Source: NFU. Original release here
Photo: Tim Rooke. Credit NFU