It's been a strong start for tatties - but is a surplus on the horizon?

Article taken from The Scottish Farmer, May 2017.

What a difference a year makes to the potato market, Agrovista's Andy Steven said  this week."Ware growers have had a good season and markets arc fairly strong. For seed growers, it's been reasonable, but there are the usual challenges with export markets," he pointed out.

But looking ahead to this coming season, there are at least favourable agronomic factors at work.

Potatoes have gone in easily across the whole of Scotland, even to the extent of being 'too  dry': "Planters have hardly stopped and crops are going in to excellent conditions," said Mr Steven.

Already, he added , some popular chemicals used at  planting  time  arc in tight supply, which suggested an increase in planted area.

"I'm confident that this great start means the potential for a  higher  yield is definitely there. However, as always, this all depends on what hand is dealt by the weather."

He  said  a  weaker  pound  should help keep EU imports at bay and offer an export market for surplus ware, which  will  mitigate a heavier crop. "However, if Europe is getting the same conditions as us, they will also be looking at a good potential crop this year."

In terms of potential problems, dry  weather  in  some  areas  is  going to make weed control challenging, especially for the residual part of spray programmes. Added to this, the mild winter has meant that there has been very little groundkeeper kill. These could act as a source of inoculums for early blight outbreaks, he warned.

"Growers need to remain vigilant. Crops will emerge fairly quickly if it warms up significantly, so growers should get prepared with their blight plans," he said.

Agrovista is to switch on its blight monitoring from field weather stations shortly and will be comparing results against the new Hutton Criteria, which is being used for the first time this year.


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