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EXCEPTIONALLY good conditions across England and Scotland enabled a speedy harvest of seed potatoes for leading potato breeder Agrico.

Approximately 70-80% of the crop was out of the ground by early October and initial reports indicated quality was good while yields looked to be around the five-year average.

Executive director Archie Gibson said: “We’ve been blessed, generally, with very good weather and the seed harvest is well underway. Good progress has been made across the whole of seed growing areas.”

Skins were in good condition and potatoes coming out the ground in good order, Archie said.

Owing to the pandemic, English seed crops have only received one certification inspection. In response, Agrico supported growers throughout the season, reviewing crop growth and virus pressure, offering advice where appropriate.

Sales manager, Alex Moore, said: “We will be checking stocks in stores regularly and our sampling programme means we will have accurate seed counts before delivery.”

Having visited growers regularly throughout the season, Alex said growing conditions had been favourable and crops had looked well.

“In England, we saw the first crops coming out the ground in Norfolk at the end of August and beginning of September. In the west of the country – Shropshire and Wales – growers were done nice and early.”

He said Performer and Spectra varieties were looking particularly good.  

Lifting has been non-stop in Scotland too, says agronomy and procurement manager, Gavin Prentice.

“We’ve experienced exceptional weather conditions. Some growers haven’t had to stop for a single day, which is unheard of and means harvest should be completed much earlier than usual.”

“Potatoes coming out of the ground are looking good and the dry conditions mean there is little earth going into boxes. However, we may see more damage and bruising as a result of less soil travelling over the harvester webs. Provided growers get sufficient air around the crop, grading should be relatively straightforward.”