Recently published figures from AHDB Potatoes confirm that, despite the wettest harvest year since 2012 and the third worst autumn on record, GB growers were able to successfully battle through and lift up to 89% of the 2019 potato harvest.
However, whilst the AHDB headline appears positive, the picture is very different across potato sectors and regions.
GB potato processors and their growers remain extremely concerned. Since the report’s publication on 15 November weather conditions have worsened, with much of the remaining crop still in field and not able to be lifted.
A further concern for GB potato processors is that several varieties which are grown specifically for processing are typically late harvested, to allow for the potatoes to bulk.
AHDB reports that for the North West only 67% of the regional potato area had been lifted by 12 November. For Yorkshire (which in October received 175% of ‘normal’ rainfall) a staggering 21% of the harvest has yet to be lifted.
These are exactly the regions where these late harvest processing varieties are being grown, and as a result the GB processing sector is expected to be disproportionately affected.
Concern is also mounting around the quality of the potatoes going into storage. Harvesting under wet conditions with heavy soil contamination (as in Yorkshire) will usually increase the risk of damage at harvest and crop loss in store.