Balance the key for tatties

Article taken from The Scottish Farmer

Variety choice and target market are the biggest decisions a grower will have had to influence to bottom line of a tattie enterprise this season, according to Agrovista’s Andy Steven.

“The difference between getting it right and wrong could be huge,” he told The SF this week.  “Variable costs are almost ‘fixed’ – you can tweak some of the input rates, but this makes only small differences in the final cost of production.

“Inputs, like blight sprays, are very much driven by the conditions over the summer and can’t be cut without serious consequences if the blight pressure proves to be high,” he added.

So where else can growers make a difference to their profitability?  Many will be focused on their costs of production, but with tatties, Mr Steven added that there is a strong case for keeping a tight handle on all the input costs, suggesting that cumulative savings can begin to add up to improve margins.

He pointed to fixed costs being hard to trim in potato production, because they often take ‘step jumps up by area’ – “For example, a harvester will typically cope with 200-plus acres each, but if you reduce the area handled by the machinery by 10%, then suddenly these fixed costs per tonne of output, rise by at least 10%.

When it comes to marketing this season, he said that the seed sector hasn’t suffered quite as badly as the ware growers – but that for certain varieties, such as Hermes, there is a risk that overproduction this season, which could put returns under serious pressure.

“The message given to ware growers all winter was with good reason – to try and balance the market.  Thankfully, it seems many have heeded that advice.  What the actual situation is, will become apparent in a couple of months once the planted areas are known,” he added.


30 May 2015

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