British potato production up as growers win battle with the weather


THE total harvest of British potatoes this year will be 5.3m tonnes according to provisional estimates – up 2.8% on last year’s figure but just below the five-year average of 5.4m tonnes.


This estimate by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has been released during a time when growers have battled an exceptionally wet harvest period for the second year running.


They have fared better than last year, as on 10 November it was estimated that 2% of the planted area was yet to be lifted. This compares with 11% of the crop that was estimated to be unlifted on November 12th, 2019.


This production figure follows an AHDB estimate that the planted area this year is the third lowest on record.


Senior Analyst at AHDB Alice Bailey (pictured) said: “This overall net yield sits in line with the five-year national average (2015-2019). Anecdotal reports suggest that yields have been somewhat variable from farm to farm, even field to field. Yet overall, crops are within farm expectations so it is not surprising that the national yield is in line with recent years.


“We saw planted area drop by 2.3% this year, yet we are estimating a 2.8% rise in production. This is based on both a slight increase in yields year-on-year and the fact that a large area was left unharvested last year. The unlifted area in 2019 was estimated at 6%, whereas in 2018 less than 1% was estimated to be left in the ground and we would anticipate similar this year.”


At the time of the announcement, 2.1Kha was still to be harvested in the East of England, and some members of the 450-strong AHDB Grower Panel still to return their survey information.