Updated: Dec 19, 2018
Total potato harvest is 13% down on the five-year average of 5.6m tonnes at 4.9m tonnes, according to the annual Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) estimate.
The relatively low production figure is a result of an estimated 4.4% drop in planted area and a 12% drop in average yield.
The crop was heavily impacted by a combination of late planting and the prolonged hot and dry weather that stalled tuber growth in June and July.
The one area of Great Britain that avoided the effects of the summer heatwave was Scotland. Potatoes grown north of the border enjoyed a 3% increase in yield but the total production of potatoes was still down due to a decrease in planted area.
Average yields in England were 20% down on the last season.
Sector strategy director at AHDB Potatoes, Dr Rob Clayton, says the average yield decrease is the result of large variations from field to field.
“Growers were battling a shortage of water this year - the combined June and July period was one of the driest on record. Fields that were irrigated will have enjoyed a reasonable crop, while in others yields were very low.”
Only 53% of the land in Great Britain planted with potatoes this year had access to irrigation.
Dr Clayton doesn’t anticipate potatoes running out, adding that we didn’t in 2012, but says friers will notice a wider range of shapes and sizes in their bags.
He adds: “The picture for the fresh chipping sector will mirror that of the rest of the industry. The consistency of size and shape that we’re used to will not be easy to find. At times such as these, a good working relationship between grower, merchant and chip shop will pay dividends.”