Despite recent steps by the Environment Agency to allow flexibility for farmers in the application of rules on water abstraction, the Potato Processors’ Association (PPA) is concerned about crop quality.
It says: “Whilst this is an important step, this will not in itself resolve the issue. The reality is that the UK potato processing sector faces significant challenges this year, resulting from the current weather conditions, and especially as a result of the 10 consecutive days in July where recorded temperatures rose above 30degC.
“Whilst it is too early to give a definitive view of the impact on the yield and size of this year’s crop, from the recently published AHDB figures on area planting it is clear that volumes will be significantly lower than average, and it is extremely likely that there will be serious issues in terms of availability of potatoes that are suitable for processing.”
PPA believes that there will be an impact on potato size, dry matter and potentially an increase in defects such as cracking and bruising.
“It is also likely that there will be less crop going into storage, and not all stored crops will be of optimum quality. This will mean that impacts for UK potato processors will last well into the first half of 2019,” says PPA.
Similar weather conditions have been observed across mainland Europe, and it will limit surplus materials available for import. “The lack of a definitive position on potato and potato seed importation, post-EU exit on 29 March 2019 only adds to the challenges that we face.
“UK potato processors will of course take a pragmatic and flexible approach wherever possible, but we are limited to a certain extent by legislation and physical characteristics of specific varieties used for crisps and French fry production.”