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Lower seed planting rates in the spring and very high rain fall in Autumn playing havoc on potato market !

Are we expecting a repeat of the high prices we experienced last Season?

Prices are currently 50% higher than what we’d expect for this time in the Season. The UK planted area for potatoes is estimated to have dropped by around 10% year on year. Yields are around average however the wet autumn has caused problems both in the UK and other potato growing areas of the continent. Waterlogged soil prevents growers from getting harvesting equipment and tractors into the field to lift the potatoes. Potatoes stuck in waterlogged soil are prone to bacterial rot.

Recent reports state that there are between 1 and 3 million tonnes stuck in the ground in northern Europe. The entire UK crop is estimated at 4.25 million tonnes as a point of comparison. The good news is that some lifting progress has been made this week although progress is slow. Its unlikely that growers will be able to lift all potatoes before winter weather conditions set in. This will put further upward price pressure on the market in the coming weeks and months.

Quality may also be an issue, fry colours this year do not appear to be as good as usual. Potatoes will be damaged in the difficult harvesting conditions leading to a poorer peeling yield through bruising.

At this week’s potato industry event in Harrogate some traders were predicting season highs of up to £28 per 25kg bag. How ever the other view is “with lacklustre demand it remains to be seen whether we will reach such dizzy heights”

Below is a potato field in Flanders where the Potato Harvester has sunk 4 ft into the field and the digger is trying to drag it out.