Severe winter weather postpones potato season by at least three weeks and yield could be 20% lower in Jersey
Jersey royal season usually runs from April to mid-July. Photograph: Clare Lewington/Jerseyroyals.co./PA
The Jersey Royal season is at least three weeks late after the “beast from the east” delayed the planting of the spring crop.
The potato’s short season, usually from April to mid-July, has been affected by hard frosts and almost double the 30-year average of rainfall in December and January, which growers say left the ground saturated and “undesirable for planting”.
Jersey normally exports around 30,000 tonnes of the potatoes to the UK each season, but producers say the figure could be up to 20% lower this year, with full volumes expected to be on supermarket shelves by mid-May.
Tim Ward, operations director at the grower Albert Bartlett, said: “The hard frosts we received from the beast from the east affected most of the early crops.
“Although quality and taste will remain unaffected, we are at least three weeks behind our expected start date and are still in need of spring to arrive to avoid further delays.
“This is the nature of seasonal produce, with no two seasons ever the same,” Ward added. “We normally face some challenges planting, predominantly during the winter months. However, a number of our fifth-generation farmers have not experienced such a trying period in their family businesses for many years.”
The Jersey Royal Company’s director of sales and marketing, William Church, said: “We are behind with planting, with only two-thirds of the export crop planted to date.
“In any other year we’d expect to be closer to 75% planted and have made a good start with planting the seed crop by now.”
Church said the crop delay and loss was unprecedented in his experience. “In 2013, there was a heavy snowfall in early March that caused disruption and some crop loss. This year, virtually all of the early areas were affected by the frost and, while plants will recover and produce excellent potatoes, the crops will undoubtedly produce a reduced yield.”
Courtesy of theguardian.com