UK weather conditions are not appealing
Weather conditions are important for all crops, but potatoes especially. It’s difficult to know how to stay on top of your crop management, especially when the Great British Weather is so unreliable. This extreme weather has hit UK potato farmers hard, with many unable to harvest their crops due to torrential downpours of rain. However, against the odds, potato yields are looking better in the UK than anywhere else in north-west Europe, where the weather is still too dry to lift crops.
Defying the odds that are set upon us in the UK with the inconsistent weather, the potato crops are in fact forecasted to be ‘3% larger than the average in north-west Europe, despite extreme summer weather pushing the average yield down 2.4t/ha below the five-year mean.’
This extra output is due to high potato plantings across five major growing countries across north-west Europe and luckily, the UK is one of them.
Potato production and climate changes in the UK
Potatoes are the most important non-grain crop in the world, so naturally, it’s important to understand the potential impacts of climate change on potato production, especially for growers.
For potatoes, dry conditions are required at planting time (usually around April for main crops, February for earlier varieties). Rainfall is, of course, important to bulk up tubers, but combining this with warm and humid weather could lead to disease problems. Dry hot weather can also cause problems at bulking up, but irrigation can be used to alleviate this. However, dry warm weather in the summer may lead to increases in aphids. In the midst of harvesting season, UK crops have suffered from excess rainfall. At harvest, wet weather can severely hamper lifting crops and early frosts can also cause damage.
Alongside other variations that Mitchell Potatoes consider when we grow our potatoes, we also have to keep an eye on too much rainfall. There are many issues that can be caused by heavy rainfall, one of them being concerns regarding potato quality. Increased rain and lack of sunshine can cause the skin to set harder and greener than desired. Potatoes with a green tint will taste bitter and be off-putting to consumers.
Waterlogged crops can cause lifting issues for many farmers, slowing down their whole process of harvesting as the heavy soil increases lifting time. This is even more concerning at this time of year with dwindling daylight and shorter days, farmers have less time to work as it is. Some farmers may not even be able to get into their fields, creating a knock-on effect in regards to their income. The wet lifting conditions can also be a concern when it comes to storability of the crop. When potatoes come to maturity, sitting in wet ground can lead to rot, meaning more wastes and smaller harvests. Waiting for the ground to dry in order to lift out the potatoes is risky, the later it gets the higher the risk of frost, leaving potatoes frozen in the soil.
Whether or not you believe in climate change doesn’t deter from the fact that the weather is changing and it’s readily noticeable. With longer and warmer seasons paired with wet and rainy conditions, we work hard to ensure that your potatoes aren’t affected. At Mitchell Potatoes, we pride ourselves in providing the highest quality chipping potatoes in England and Wales … where quality meets taste.
How Mitchell Potatoes deliver through the stormy weather
The truth of the matter is, we can’t control the temperature or the weather, but what we can do is work with it. We work around the rainfall to use it to our advantage and all the positives that can come with it.
Weeks of warm, dry weather can cause stress to non-irrigated potatoes, late rainfall could help boost less-advanced spuds. Many crops suffer from the hard soil, rainfall could help soften this up.
When we grow your potatoes, we stay one step ahead of the great British weather. As all experienced fryers know a potato can vary in quality depending on soil type, weather conditions, variety and general husbandry. Therefore we stock a wide range of growers and varieties to ensure we have a chipping potato to suit your needs. No other merchant in the UK can match our range of potato varieties.
Want to start growing with Mitchell Potatoes? Call us today to find out how you can become part of the Mitchell Potatoes family. We work closely with Seed houses to identify new varieties that work well for both the Grower and end-user.