While potato producers might have to contend with higher agronomic costs associated with growing their crops this year – including higher seed costs in many areas – the outlook for the sector would appear to be less volatile than other areas of the industry.

That was the message given at the open day by AHDB markets’ expert, David Eudall, who said that with many farm stores empty, there was little old crop overhanging the market.

Latest figures, he said, suggested a planting area of around 118,000 ha, a figure which was little changed from last year. Basing his assumption on yields closer to normal than the 2018 crop, which had been hit hard by drought conditions in England, he said that production was likely to be up from last year’s sub-5m tonnes figure to somewhere between 5.1 and 5.2m tonnes.

Describing this as a ‘comfortable position’ for both the industry and trade, Mr Eudall said that it didn’t look like production would breach the ‘bothersome’ 5.5m tonne level which would push the market into serious oversupply.

Indicating that although prices were sliding from last year’s levels, he felt that improved yields should help compensate.

He also indicated that the sector was not as badly placed as others in the face of a no-deal Brexit and reassured Scottish seed growers that agreements were already being put in place with one of the biggest export markets, Egypt, to see trade continue regardless of how the UK withdrew from the EU.