Estimates show small drop in potato planted area

The figures suggest a minimal impact from the coronavirus crisis on planting decisions
The figures suggest a minimal impact from the coronavirus crisis on planting decisions

New estimates show a small drop in the UK planted area for potatoes despite a turbulent season for growers.

Provisional figures from AHDB show the planted area in Britain at 119Kha, which, if correct, shows only a 1 percent drop on last year.

The fall takes into account revisions to the 2019 planted area data since September.

The figures suggest a minimal impact from the coronavirus crisis on planting decisions, as many growers had already made plans by the time the pandemic hit.



Although it is early days, the 2020/21 UK potato crop could be 5.4Mt if the average yield is 45t per hectare.

Lower yields are anticipated on the early crops due to frosts in mid-May but yields on maincrop potatoes are looking relatively robust.



The estimate, at 45t/ha, would mean a rise in production compared to last year, despite a drop in the planted area.

AHDB analyst Alice Bailey said: “Despite the wet weather hampering early planting, conditions changed dramatically when it came to the maincrop. For some growers the conditions bordered on too dry.

“When comparing these projected production figures with last year, it’s important to remember that some of the 2019 crop couldn’t be harvested.

"Our current estimate of 5.4Mt assumes that the entire planted area for this season can be lifted out the ground," Ms Bailey said.

Although there was some initial concern about cold soil temperatures earlier this year, temperatures rose throughout April.

Despite this, a bought of frost in mid-May could still impact the yield of some crops, AHDB said.

While rain returned during June, the impact varied over the country but generally provided a boost to crops.



The warm weather throughout spring brought other challenges for growers, with aphids causing problems this season, the levy board added.