The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has said the total area in the UK planted with potatoes is only 119,000 hectares, a fall of 3% compared with the previous year.
The news comes during a challenging season for potato growers, with an agricultural drought likely to affect yields.
The Environment Agency (EA) announced further support for drought-hit farmers, ahead of the NFU’s drought summit held on the same day. While, In Scotland SEPA has given a commitment to help growers continue to access the water they need for irrigation.
The ultimate size of the potato crop, and how the market firms in response, will not be known until harvest. At five year average yields, this would equate to a total potato harvest of 5.7 million tonnes.
The season also started with sub-zero temperatures brought by ‘the beast from the East’, followed by a wet spring that delayed planting. Since then, the sector has seen one of the driest combined June and July periods on record and most growers are reporting that yields will be down.
Rob Clayton, AHDB’s sector strategy director for potatoes, remains optimistic, believing that a resilient industry will maintain the supply of our British-grown crop.
He said: “Potatoes are a vital crop for families, providing 14% of the vitamin C consumed in Britain as a staple that some of our favourite meals are based on. This has been a tough and stressful season for growers, we do not underestimate that.
“However, we welcome news that supply chains are working closer than ever before, and that continual improvements are leading to reduced food waste at all points from the grower to the consumer.”