At Brickyard Farm near Slingsby, North Yorkshire, Andrew Wilson has just started on his 60 ha of potatoes for McCain. Lifting conditions are okay so far, he says: “We had 10mm of rain on Monday (2 October). It’s a bit damp but we’re travelling okay at the moment; if we have a week of rain we might be in trouble.”
Of course, harvest started a week later than usual. “We couldn’t desiccate quite as early as we would have liked, partly because of the wet weather at the end of September, and we knew if we started too early we would have to stop anyway,” he says.
As far as the yields are concerned, he is optimistic he will meet contracts: “Some look quite promising and some look like they will scrape in, so it will probably average out alright. It will be interesting to see how the indexation comes out this winter, but it’s too early to make any judgements yet.”
Wilson’s Country is confirming that two-thirds of this year’s potato crop has yet to be harvested around the country. The Co. Armagh-based potato packer and processer works with growers throughout the island of Ireland. Company managing director, Lewis Cunningham: “We are about six weeks behind with this year’s harvest. Yields are down approximately 10%, year-on-year. Tuber quality is also an issue.”
Cunningham confirmed that local potato growers are facing into one of the most challenging harvests in living memory. “The harvest is just the latest setback that has confronted potato growers this year,” he added. “The very wet weather in April meant that main crop potatoes were not planted out until the middle of May, a full six weeks later than would normally be the case. Drought-like conditions followed, which hampered the germination and early growth of crops. But then came the heavy rains of July and August.”