Growers have been urged not to forget about their potatoes in storage as they enjoy the festive period so they don’t risk losing their crop to rot.
This year’s heavy and constant rainfall has resulted in crops going into storage from relatively wet soils, according to Adrian Cunnington, head of Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, which is operated by the Potato Council.
The facility, which conducts research and development principally on potatoes as well as other crops for growers on behalf of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, has observed that the potatoes in store have a higher than usual soil content as a result of the wet conditions.
Adrian said: “The impact of that is basically that the soil impedes ventilation of the crop while in store because it’s important we keep crops as dry as possible in storage. We use cool air from large fans to dry them but if we can’t get the air through the crop that limits the storage time.
“One of the messages over the festive period is, ‘Don’t close your store up and forget about it’. Get in there and make regular checks to ensure things are staying as they should do and you are not in for a surprise.”
Nationally, the potato crop is about 20 per cent down, although Adrian said the Eastern counties were “relatively well off” compared with the national picture and that supermarkets were taking a more flexible approach to quality to make maximum use of potatoes in storage.