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Bruising advice offered at North of England Event

1 September 2011

 

This year’s AHDB Potatoes North of England Event included a series of practical, in-the-field interactive workshops and trials, with key industry figures such as Eric Anderson from Scottish Agronomy and Barry Baker from Grimme offering tips on reducing bruising. 
 
“Bruising is a significant factor affecting the whole of the GB potato industry and it is estimated that each grower is losing £200/ha as a result of bruising,” said Scottish Agronomy’s senior agronomist Eric Anderson at the event held at Askham Bryan [September 13]. “Many people think that bruising is influenced solely by the dry matter. However, bruising sensitivity depends on variety, tuber size and shape, age, nutrition and soil type and soil temperature, in addition to tuber firmness (turgor).
 
“Furthermore, good planning prior to planting will help minimise risks. Growers should check areas such as separation, clod and stone removal, correct machinery set-up and tractor wheel size and track width.”
 
The head of Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, Adrian Cunnington, warned that bacterial disease could predominate in crops from wetter areas this year, meaning extra care will need to be taken when storing.
 
In his seminar, he emphasised the need to sample tubers to identify and assess potential problems prior to harvest.
 
“It’s vital to control and minimise risks that threaten your ability to supply quality tubers to the market,” said Mr Cunnington. “Potatoes entering store and those with any sign of dampness or disease in particular, need fast, effective drying using positive ventilation to minimise disease development and maintain crop health.”
 
He suggested that producers benchmark the performance of their own stores by measuring their electricity consumption and comparing the data with stores listed on the AHDB Potatoes ‘energy hub’ at www.potato.org.uk/energy
 
Speaker Professor David Hughes held his audience spellbound as he gave an overview of world-wide consumer trends. He drew attention to the market size of the United States, pointing out that California has a similar Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to Italy. 
 
Going on to speak about British supermarkets, he praised those that put information about growers on fresh produce packaging, thereby bringing growers and consumers closer together.
 
The Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at Imperial College London and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester advised growers to work together to improve supply chain co-ordination and co-investment and, where possible, using brands to increase customer loyalty. 
 
Outside, soil scientist Selwyn Richardson’s soil pit also attracted great attention, with the former ADAS consultant assessing and commenting on soil structure and compaction.
 
“It was a highly successful day with over 250 people attending from all sectors of the industry. We also had a visit from agricultural students on their first day at Askham Bryan College, who found the wealth of information inspiring,” says AHDB Potatoes technical executive Phil Bradshaw who organised the event.
 
 “There was something for everyone, including variety trials, desiccation and spray applications in addition to expert tips on storage and health and safety.”  
 
The North of England Potato Event was organised by AHDB Potatoes and sponsored by Masstock Smart Farming, SAC, Syngenta, NFU, Branston, Grimme and Cockerill. 
 
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