MAIN crop potato planting got underway last week with growers availing of the perfect ground conditions created by the continuing spell of good weather. Wilson’s Country agronomist Stuart Meredith takes up the story:
“Crops planted now should be ready for harvest by mid-September. Obviously weather conditions over the coming months will play a big part in this.
“Last autumn told the tale of atrocious weather conditions, leaving many growers with no option but to over-winter crops in the ground and complete the 2019 harvest during the early weeks of this year.”
He continued: “The good news for consumers is that stocks of potatoes are more than adequate at the present time. Eating quality is excellent with potatoes representing excellent value-for-money.”
According to Stuart, digging of this year’s Comber Earlies should get underway around the middle of June.
“This will mark the start of the 2020 harvest period. The current spell of decent weather will help boost the growth of all early crops,” he said.
The Wilson’s agronomist made his comments while visiting the County Down farm of potato grower Raymond Patterson, who farms with his sons James, Robert and Matthew. Together they grow 200 acres of potatoes in conjunction with a range of cereal crops. The Pattersons also manage a flock of 185 breeding ewes.
This week saw the family planting out 40 acres of Cultra potatoes on lands at Tullynaskeagh, between Downpatrick and Ardglass.
“The potatoes are following a crop of winter wheat,” said Raymond.
“The ground was soil tested and then ploughed in March. Last week’s good weather has allowed us to get on with the remaining field work, which included the de-stoning of the potato beds.
“The fertiliser programme that we follow will reflect the results of the soil tests.
“Cultra is a main crop potato variety, which grows well in this part of the world.”