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Another drought....?

Updated: May 25, 2020

As 2020 started there was not much sign of anything getting planted in the spring as the rain kept coming with one of the wettest winters on record. Water levels were already high from high rainfall in November and the rain just kept topping up the water table. Most fields in March were not passable with a tractor yet three months later and the irrigators are out on early potatoes, carrots, spring cereals etc. to help gemination, especially on heavier soils.

Continuous easterly winds along with only 28 mm of rain in March and April dried the soil up very quickly and allowing favourable conditions for sewing spring crops and planting potatoes. Some places have had more and some less with virtually no rain to the East of the country and an overall picture of drought for the early part of the season anyway. Every year is different in the potato growing season and every year throws up a new challenge. One of those challenges is the weather, although the weather is always changing and we can still 0get all four seasons in a day, the scale of the weather has changed with hotter mean temperatures, more downpours rather than a constant rain that soaks in, longer dryer spells and longer wetter spells. This is where growers need to adapt to the conditions and learn when to be patient when it comes to planting and harvest, to look at new ways of irrigating the crops to conserve water, different varieties to withstand any new extremes in the UK climate. The weather also has knock on effects for storage and marketing, this can be due to problems caused by high blight pressure, waterlogging issues, large amounts of soil in boxes, high levels of bruising, high levels of scab etc.

This is a very similar pattern to 2018 when the 'beast from the east' brought cold weather and snow in from the east and a very late start to planting. The easterly pattern continued for the following few months with easterly winds, very little rainfall and high temperatures, very sporadic downpours were all that came throughout the growing season. Harvest was a very wet occasion that year so hopefully that wont be the way this year. 2012 had very little sunshine for the whole growing season, 2015 was very wet throughout, this year, who knows. We cant control the weather, we can do our best to get a crop to grow and get it into store and then it is under our control.

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