POTATO yields this year are the lowest since the drought year of 1976, the Potato Council yesterday confirmed, with crops down 25 per cent on 2011.
The total estimated yield in the UK this year is just above 4.5 million tonne, almost 1.5 million tonnes below last year.
Jim Davies, a senior analyst with the Potato Council, said that 5 per cent of the reduction was due to a fall in the planted acreage while 21 per cent was down to reduced yields.
Late planting and a cold early season followed by a wet harvest combined to produce an average yield of only 37.4 tonnes per hectare compared with 47.4 tonnes last year.
The yield figures could be further diminished if the 11 per cent of the crop which the Potato Council estimates is still in the ground is written off.
Imports from June to September this year were more than doubled on last year’s figures, at 130,000 tonnes, but despite this, prices remain high, with the average last week surging upwards to £225 per tonne, some £23 up on the previous week.