the long hot summer
SO WHAT WENT WRONG THIS SEASON?
Soaring temperatures and very little rain made for a wonderful summer this year, many have compared it to the summer of ‘76! However farmers across Europe have warned of increased crop prices and reduced supply over the coming months.
The UK saw higher than average rainfall during March and April this year which delayed planting of seen potatoes by up to a month on some farms.
With daytime temperatures often above 20 degrees many plants began to wilt and become stressed leading to reduced growth rates.
Limited rainfall meant that unirrigated crops quickly started to struggle, by late summer waster usage for irrigation was restricted meaning even irrigated crops began to become dormant.
As the drought took hold large cracks opened up in the ground allowing sunlight to reach the potato crop leading to greening of many potatoes, not just those on the surface.
When the rains came, they came too late. Many potatoes had already become dormant, with the influx of rains they began to grow again - this is called secondary growth (it's not a thing!)
The adverse growing conditions left much of this years crop with growth defects, in addition potatoes seemed to be more susceptible to disease.
There is now an industry wide fear that many of the 2018 season potatoes will not store well. This will of course lead to shortages during 2019 and thus prices are expected to continue rising well into the first part of next year.
Sunlight Exposure Greening
Any potatoes with greening are discarded because they cannot be consumed. This reduces the overall yield of the crop
Potatoes with growth issues such as cracks or secondary growth will not be easy to peel. At the very least this slows preparation for cooking. In addition potatoes with secondary growth are effectively two potatoes that are formed together as one. Because they have grown at different rate in different conditions each half of the potato will have a different dry matter. This will affect how each potatoes cooks.
Skin defects such as scab have developed on many potatoes this season. These potatoes have a dull appearance making them less desirable to chefs. The demand for bright clean looking potatoes constantly pushes the potato prices up. Few crops are completely without defects.