A lack of available water could force growers to cut potato areas next spring. Growers, particularly those relying on winter-abstracted water for irrigation, needed a back-up plan for irrigation water next spring, Jerry Knox from Cranfield University's Institute for Water Science, warned at the Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association conference.
Groundwater levels at the end of October were in a worse state than at the same period in 1975 in many places in England, he said. A dry autumn had only exacerbated problems.
"Current soil moisture deficits in the Midlands are around 100mm deficit, and only slightly better in East Anglia. At the same time last year, deficits were almost back to field capacity, which is what you would expect by the end of the year. We're in a very different position to previous years."