British potato farmers were hit by drought in 2018, leaving the total volume of spuds harvested at the lowest level since 2012, and the fourth smallest since 1960, AHDB Potatoes says in a recent report
The British potato harvest is 13% down on the five-year average of 5.6m tonnes at 4.9m tonnes, according to our annual 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.
This means we’re seeing smaller spuds on our plates, as supermarkets work with farmers to maintain supply, but new research confirms they are a vital part of a healthy diet.
Potato grower Tom Macfarlane appeared on BBC’s The One Show on Tuesday 11 December), to explain to consumers that when they pick up their spuds for Christmas dinner it is likely to be a ‘mixed bag’.
“Lack of water was the issue this summer, that and the extreme heat. Potatoes need water to grow to the size we’re used to seeing, and to get the nice shiny skin consumers like” he said.
“The good news is, taste and nutrition levels will be completely unaffected – the UK gets 14% of its vitamin C and 12% of its fibre from potatoes, and we’ve been working hard to ensure they’ll still be on your plate this Christmas.”
AHDB figures show that only half of GB potato land has access to irrigation, and Mr Macfarlane agreed this was the key issue.