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AHDB Potatoes to launch new ‘Damage Awareness’ campaign at BP2013

22 November 2013
Only once every two years is the whole GB supply-chain together under one roof, that’s why BP2013, jointly sponsored by Grimme and Branston, is the ideal opportunity for AHDB Potatoes to launch its ‘Damage Awareness’ campaign at Harrogate on 27-28 November.
 
Led by Claire Hodge, Technical Executive at AHDB Potatoes, the campaign focuses on optimising machinery and potato handling equipment, to reduce tuber damage caused during main crop lifting and will be unveiled at BP 2013. 
 
“Damaged crops costs the UK potato industry over £200 per hectare” she states. “AHDB Potatoes has been working in conjunction with Grimme, Standen-Pearson and Tong Peal to promote awareness and provide guidelines to help minimise damage during lifting.”
 
Grimme’s sales director Barry Baker says, “We’ve had two very challenging and varied seasons since the last BP event. BP2013 is an excellent opportunity for growers and farm managers to see and discuss machinery requirements first hand. It’s an ideal opportunity to find the most economic, productive and cost effective equipment for your specific rotation.” 
 
Bruising is a major concern in main crop potato lifting and current evaluation of tuber damage includes numerous tests such as regular sampling and ‘hot boxing’. However, machinery operations are key for careful crop handling in the preliminary stages of harvesting.  “Planning ahead and identifying fields with most potential for bruising during lifting is important”, advises Claire.    
 
The dry conditions throughout spring and summer caused concerns about how tubers would fare.  However, with crops being lifted and going into store, soil temperatures and conditions are a major factor.  
 
“Processing contracts stipulate that dry matter should be between 20 – 24%”, states John Sarup of SPUD Agronomy & Consultancy.  “If there is adequate soil moisture at burn down, the crop will be less likely to bruise”. He continues, “Keeping as much soil on the harvester will be crucial as this acts as a cushion; minimising drops into trailers and boxes will also help reduce the incidence of tuber bruising. However, harvesting in cold conditions can also predispose tubers to bruising due to sudden drops in tuber temperature.”
 
Nick Woodcock from Tong Peal Engineering says “We continuously strive to design and develop our grading and handling equipment to ensure the gentlest handling, applying minimum drops and incorporating the latest and most precise equipment controls, allowing machine settings to match the crop type and handling conditions at any given time.”
 
David Wilson, sales director at Ely-based Standen–Pearson says: “After huge investment into planting, getting the crop established and the monitoring and measuring of tubers during the growing season, it’s vital that damage is minimised during the handling stage. The potential to save £200/ha over the 122,200 hectares grown in GB this year is a ‘no-brainer’.”
 
Visitors at BP2013 will be able to get all the new information on this important new campaign which includes a comprehensive new guide, handy machinery settings cards and three short videos highlighting the key areas where damage can be minimised during harvest and grading. 
 
This information can also be accessed via the website at www.potato.org.uk/minimising-damage Plus, Grimme, Standen-Pearson and Tong Peal will all be promoting this information on their own stands at BP2013, so look out for this campaign – and if you take part in the damage awareness quick quiz at BP2013, you’ll be entered into the Industry Prize Draw! 
 
Claire will be on the AHDB Potatoes stand at BP2013, Harrogate, 27 and 28 November to talk about this and other key technical campaigns to help growers. 
 
For details about potato handling best practice, contact Claire Hodge on 0131 472 4062 and claire.hodge@ahdb.org.uk.
 
Information on varietal characteristics, including bruising susceptibility, visit AHDB Potatoes’s online variety database www.potato.org.uk/varieties
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