Drought 2018 still posing questions to potato growers

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A special storage session at the final AHDB Strategic Farm field walk of the season saw discussion on the challenges caused by this summer’s drought.

The session was added to the planned trials programme at the Elveden Estate in West Suffolk to give growers and store managers a chance to share experiences and ideas.

Simon Alexander of S.A. Consulting chaired discussions and said by harvest it was a balancing act between catching up on yield and achieving the quality required to store effectively.
“What you need to do to achieve one doesn’t necessarily help the other,” he added.

AHDB has a free storage advice line for growers and released an updated Potato Store Managers’ Guide earlier in the summer.

Adrian Cunnington, who edited the guide, said that best practice becomes particularly important in difficult times.
“When a crop comes into store it needs a good set skin to protect it from weight loss and disease. Make sure it can be dried, cured and cooled effectively.

“Unimpeded air circulation is very important. If tuber size is below average, as may be the case this year, this restricts airflow, so make sure not to overfill boxes as that will create further problems.”

After the storage discussion the group moved on to field plots to discuss this year’s trials on PCN management and nitrogen use.

The event marked the end of the third and final growing season of Elveden’s participation in the Strategic Farm programme.

Farms Director Andrew Francis said: “For the region as a whole I think we’ve been able to move forward and progress together. This is the first time that we’ve had this level of research on light soils, so hopefully we’ve started something that will develop and carry on long after our tenancy.

“I don’t think you can underestimate the value of having research carried out on your own backyard. My team have had to work hard to make the most of the opportunities but it has been great for their development.”
A results day on 10 January at Newmarket racecourse will see trials data presented and researchers and agronomists will chair discussions on implications for best practice for the region.

To register for the event, and join the debate, visit potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/events

The AHDB Potatoes storage advice line is available on 0800 02 82 111 and the store managers’ guide can be downloaded at potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/storemanagersguide.



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