Seed potato exports reach a record high

HIGH QUALITY: Growers examining seed potato varieties

HIGH QUALITY: Growers examining seed potato varieties

First published in Farming Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

EXPORTS of British seed potatoes hit an all-time high of 103,000 tonnes during the 2013-14 season.

The majority are from Cumbria, Northumberland, and Scotland where most of the high grade stocks are produced.

However, Yorkshire is now an upand- coming producer and exporter of high-quality seed potatoes in its own right.

An increasing amount is grown on the Yorkshire Wolds which, 30 years ago, grew no potatoes at all.

This year’s record export figure – up from 70,000 tonnes in 2002 – included an increasing amount of Yorkshire seed sent to countries such as Egypt.

Edward Lindley, a seed grower from Driffield, exports the Hermes variety to Egypt.

He said: “We grow Pre-Basic (PB) and Super Elite (SE) grades of seed potato here in Yorkshire and seed production in this region has increased significantly in recent years.

“I am able to produce about 80 per cent of my own seed potatoes for multiplying up each year. We can lift and dry the seed crop that little bit earlier down here so we can supply the earlier overseas markets comfortably.

And because we are just that bit closer to our markets, transport costs are marginally lower and we can pass those savings on to the seed customers.”

Robert Burns, head of seed and export at the Potato Council, said the next export season should be as good as, if not better, than this one.

He said: “The Great British seed crop has grown well this season, with a good supply of different varieties available.

“We have seen increasingly strong exports, and having talked to our contacts overseas, seed tonnages to key markets are expected to rise further for the 2014-15 season and we are well positioned to fulfil that demand.”

He put the success of Great Britain’s seed potato exports down to the whole industry collaborating with the Potato Council and plant health authorities on key plant health and certification issues.

This ensures that seed from Britain remains high health and highquality, meeting and exceeding customers’ stringent requirements across the continents.

The Potato Council and leading variety breeders, seed producers, researchers and crop storage experts will be on a Great British industry stand at Potato Europe, near Hannover, Germany, on September 3 and 4.

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