Potato yields slumped by 18pc in the East after summer heatwave, says report
PUBLISHED: 15:47 13 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:47 13 December 2018
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2015
Potato production has hit its lowest level since 2012, with crops in the eastern counties particularly badly affected by the summer heatwave.
Yields in the East this year were down 18pc from 2017, at 40.4t/ha (tonnes per hectare), according to the annual estimates from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
Across the country, the total potato harvest of 4.9m tonnes is 13pc down on the five-year average of 5.6m tonnes, says the report. Average yields in England were 40.1t/ha, a 20pc decrease from the 49.9t/ha seen last season.
The lower production figures are a result of an estimated 4.4pc drop in planted area, and a 12pc drop in average yield, after the crop was heavily impacted by a combination of late planting and the prolonged hot and dry weather that stalled tuber growth in June and July.
Dr Rob Clayton, sector strategy director at AHDB Potatoes, said: “Growers were battling a shortage of water this year, the combined June and July period was one of the driest on record. Fields that were irrigated will have enjoyed a reasonable crop, while in others yields were very low.”
Only 53pc of the land in Great Britain planted with potatoes this year had access to irrigation, according to the AHDB.
“We won’t run out of potatoes” continued Dr Clayton “we didn’t in 2012, and we won’t in 2018. But what consumers will notice is a wider range of shapes and sizes in the bag they bring home to cook with.
“With fewer potatoes around this year supermarkets won’t be able to only choose from the ‘middle’ section of sizes – hence more variety in the bag.”