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2018 earlies planting significantly hampered by weather

Publication Date: 
23 March 2018

Aidan Wright, Analyst, Aidan.wright@ahdb.org.uk, 02476 478894

Adverse weather conditions have hindered planting progress in Jersey with the Royal Jersey Company currently estimating that their season will run around 3 weeks behind schedule. Conditions on the slopes which are used for outdoor planting (known as côtils) have been challenging with a combination of frozen ground earlier in the month and rainfall delaying planting progress. As of 19 March 56% of the export crop was planted with the Royal Jersey Company stating that this is the furthest behind it has been in 10 years.

With planting progress delayed, the fate of crops that have already emerged is also under question. The Royal Jersey Company reported that frost damage was widespread in the earliest crops which were planted on the côtils, though some signs of recovery are beginning to show.

Lifting of the indoor crops has begun with limited volumes moving into the wholesale market. However volumes will need to be carefully managed as the growth of the indoor crops has reportedly been negatively impacted by the prolonged sub-zero temperatures.

The undesirable conditions in Jersey are not an isolated case and earlies planting across the UK has also suffered setbacks. Anecdotal reports of planting in Cornwall have put progress significantly behind previous years with wet weather continuing to hamper efforts. Similarly to Jersey, the cold weather reportedly caused some damage to the emerging crops that were planted in December/January.

With continued rainfall forecast in both Cornwall and Jersey it appears that planting conditions will continue to be challenging in the short term. Even if planting can take place, soil temperatures are low which may negatively affect the speed of crop development. It remains to be seen whether these delays in planting could result in larger quantities of the earlies crop arriving on the market at the same time. If this scenario is realised prices could come under pressure, however should planting disruption be widespread across the UK than a staggered regional lifting of the crop is likely to occur.

The potential delay in the early crop coming to market, however, may benefit the 2017 salad crop in the coming months. With salads reportedly storing well, the delay in early plantings may bolster demand for old season salad potatoes later this season.

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