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Driest spring since 2011 sees accelerated planting pace

Publication Date: 
23 June 2017

James Webster, Analyst,, 02476 478844

It will come as no surprise that spring this year was exceedingly dry, with just 191.8mm of rainfall on average across the UK. The lack of rainfall helped with the quick pace of potato plantings, which reached 100,000ha in the quickest time since 2015.

Lack of April (and May) showers…

This year the UK experienced the driest spring since 2011, with just 191.8mm of rainfall on average across the UK in March-May. Looking at the weather more regionally and the picture is not much wetter. Figure 1 below shows the level of UK rainfall in spring 2017 compared to the level of rainfall in each the past six years, it is clear that April this year was one of the driest, with just 34.7mm of rain. May was equally dry compared to the previous six years, with just 58mm of rain.

…Positive for potato planting progress

As we’ve already seen with the planting progress updates throughout April and May, the pace of planting progressed well this season. The time taken to hit 100,000ha, the point at which AHDB Potatoes ceases weekly reporting, was the second fastest in the last six years, reaching 100,000ha in the week ending 6 May 2017 (week 10).

Figure 2 above shows the planting pace going back to 2011, the year often considered to be the “flagship dry spring”. As mentioned above this year has been the driest spring since 2011, when the 100,000ha mark was hit in the week ending 30 April (week 9). This is likely a reflection of the weather experience in March, which this season was wetter than in 2011.

Looking ahead

It is almost the end of June and the weather has been largely mixed, varying from “extreme” heat and heavy rain. Some may be tempted to estimate what yields will be at harvest. However, as we demonstrated last year – apart from in the most extreme weather years such as 2012, weather during July and June have little relationship with final yields.

How to find out the first GB potatoes area estimate?

Next week AHDB Potatoes will be releasing the first look at the planted area, in the first ever Market Intelligence Potatoes webinar. The webinar will take place on Monday 26 June at 12.30pm. As well as the first release of the planted area, the webinar will cover topics on:

The consumer trends which are driving the market;
The opportunities and challenges in potato trade post-Brexit; and
An AHDB Potatoes strategy update delivered by Sector Strategy Director Rob Clayton.

The webinar will also give you the opportunity to interact with the industry specialists, by ask questions throughout the webinar.

To find out more and register for the webinar go to:

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