AHDB Potatoes has produced provisional estimates of planted areas by variety for Great Britain for 2016.
These are shown below with comparisons to the five previous seasons
As with all estimates based on a sample, results should be treated with caution as, despite every effort to make the sample as representative as possible, there is a possibility that the planting decisions made by those not included in the sample may differ from those who are included.
The movers and shakers
Despite strong gains for some of the newer varieties, Maris Piper continues to hold the number one spot with the largest area grown of all varieties and also with the largest increase in area on the previous year.
As a versatile variety, this could be related to the higher area planted intended for both the chipping and packing markets (see below).
Top 10 potato varieties in Great Britain in 2016 (provisional) Source: AHDB
Similar strong gains were made by Brooke (crisping, +114%) and Nectar (packing, +49%), though these remain outside the top ten.
These are all newer varieties which seem to be proving popular with both purchasers and growers.
Largest changes by area planted with a potato variety in 2016 compared to 2015 (provisional).
Darker colours represent large changes. Source: AHDB
All of these varieties have been on a declining trend for the past few years. Packing, processing and crisping varieties all show up both in those making the strongest gains as well as those falling the most, suggesting switching into the newer varieties in these sectors.
Changes in area by intended market sector
Below, we look at what the changes mean for area by intended market sector. The only market sector to lose a significant share of area is the ‘other ware/undisclosed’ category. Therefore, the intended market sector has been disclosed by growers for a greater area than for previous years.
This makes it hard to know whether a change in market sector area is driven by a genuine change in varieties planted, or whether these varieties had previously been allocated to the ‘other ware/undisclosed’ category. As such, comparisons to previous years need to be treated with some caution. This category has declined by some 3,000ha this season, which, could affect the direction of change compared to last year.
Bearing all this in mind, this season we have seen area intended for packing appear to recover to 43,000ha from 38,000ha in 2015, slightly up on the 2014 season. Last year, the largest declines in planted area seemed to come from the packing sector with roughly an 11% decline. The increase in area grown intended for packing this year is unsurprising considering the high prices achieved later on in 2015/16 for best quality whites and baking potatoes.
A large percentage increase in plantings this year also seems to have come for the fresh chipping sector, up 9% to the highest area since 2013. Similar to the packing sector, prices for fresh chipping supplies also rose dramatically towards the end of 2015/16 which would incentivise planting of these varieties. The seed potato area also appears to have increased by 13% to c.17,000ha.
Movements in other sectors have been smaller, with processing increasing and fresh bags decreasing slightly.
The second estimate of GB potato plantings for 2016 remains at 116,000ha, with plantings intended for packing, seed and fresh chipping showing the strongest growth. Among individual varieties, Maris Piper both retains the top spot and has the largest increase in area. Other than this, the next largest increases all came from newer, specialist varieties, as has been the case in the past few years.
Although the planted area is up this season, it won’t be clear whether we will be in a similar supply situation as 2015, until a production estimate is produced following harvest later in the year. It is still too early to be able to predict yields, with around two months still to go before the majority of the GB crop is harvested. Given the area planted and variation in yields, production could still feasibly go either way compared to last year.