Potato growers in South Holland are counting the cost of this summer’s wet weather as they face a drastic drop in harvest yields.
Saturated soil, potato blight disease and late harvests have left some producers in the area forecasting a drop in yields of as much as 35 per cent. Producers are being compensated by potato prices virtually doubling over the past year from about £110 per tonne to more than £200 per tonne, but one farm manager described this summer’s problems as the worst growers had faced for a generation.
Paul Langford, farm manager at Lincolnshire Field Products in Wykeham, said: “Conditions were very difficult during the summer because of the wet weather and we’ve had to work round it to keep the blight out of the potatoes.
“Our yields are down between 25 per cent and 35 per cent, but some fields have coped better with the conditions than others.
“This time last year, potatoes were worth between £110 and £120 a tonne and this year they are worth virtually double that, so there is a compensation in the market for the lack of yield.
“But the stresses and strains of this year’s harvest are the worst I’ve ever known and when I’ve spoken to people more experienced than me, they’ve said it’s the worst for a generation.”
Mark Tinsley, chairman of Nene Potatoes in Long Sutton, said: “It’s been a real problem this year and it’s probably been the most significantly difficult time in my 40 years of farming.
“A compensatory factor has been that potato values are quite high, but with low yields, harvesting costs and damage to crops, prices need to be high to make up for the problems being incurred at the moment.”