2020 GB potato planted area 'one of lowest on record'

Figures show a 2.3% year-on-year drop in GB potato planted area
Figures show a 2.3% year-on-year drop in GB potato planted area

The 2020 planted potato area in Great Britain is one of the lowest on record, according to a new estimate by AHDB.

The total planted GB area is estimated to be 117.47Kha, indicating a drop of 2.3 percent compared to last year.

This makes the planted area for this year the third smallest on record, behind only 2016 and 2017.

The driving force behind the drop is mainly the processing sector, but also the fresh bags sector with a combined reduction of 4.1Kha, AHDB's update notes.

Figures show significant drops in planted areas in regions badly hit by the weather events of both 2018 and 2019.

According to Alice Bailey, AHDB senior analyst, a drop in planted area of 1.1Kha was estimated for the North West, a region particularly affected by 2019's wet weather.

"By 12 November 2019, 33% of the North West’s crop was estimated to still be in the ground and the rain continued through the winter causing continued problems."

But she added the potato area in the North West had been declining quite dramatically since a peak in 2017.

"A key driver behind the drop in planted area for the North East and North West combined comes from the processing sector; a reduction of 574ha (22.6%) from last year."

Other regions with a decline of 700-800ha to planted area include the East and West Midlands, which have followed a long-term trend of reduced area year-on-year.

"Since 2011 plantings, the East and West Midlands have seen a reduction of 1.4Kha and 3.4Kha respectively," Ms Bailey said.

She added that the new estimates represented the GB area covered by around 90% of producers, so further changes could be made.