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Analyst Insight: British climate leaves 2019 potato production uncertain

Prospects for the 2019 potato crop were looking promising in the late summer after swift spring planting and much more favourable growing season after the drought of 2018.

After such a hard season in 2018, and with a tight seed market, it was unsurprising that a lot of the industry was cautious with planting decisions. Planted area remained stable at 118,953 hectares a slight increase on the year, but still one of the lowest on record.

The 2019 summer was a mixture of sunshine and showers. This combination of warm, wet conditions increased disease risk, with blight a concern. Speaking to growers, yields were said to be average to good but not exceptional.

And then, as store loading was getting going, there was torrential rain for most of the country. Much of the North West, Yorkshire and the East Midlands had over 175 per cent of ‘normal’ rainfall in October. While Scotland and some parts of the south were less severely affected.

Lifting was interrupted with growers getting out whenever they could. But with little let up in the rain, conditions were exceptionally difficult for many growers. Especially for those on heavier soils.

Early figures suggest a production level of around 5.1 million tonnes. This is based on an average yield of close to 45 tonnes a hectare, and takes into account losses of just over 3% at this stage. 

Full report on AHDB’s website here. Author: David Eudall, Head of Market Specialists (Arable)