Following a series of devastating storms to hit eastern Scotland potato farmers are battling to bring in this year’s harvest. Growers throughout Scotland are concerned about their ability to life this year’s crop following weeks of wet weather. Crops have been heavily damaged and such events are becoming more recurrent.

For all growers, this is a very important time of year as they gather in the crop from a season of hard work and outgoing costs. Severe flooding caused by the storms has left some farmers to abandon potatoes parks which will be unable to be harvested.

Waterlogged fields result in crops becoming distressed, nutrient intake is severely affected when air particles within the soil are replaced with water, and over time the lack of oxygen will cause plant death. Symptoms of waterlogged crops include wilting of the leaves and tuber diseases within potatoes.

The impact of the weather certainly does not end in the field as thoughts turn to the effects of storage and just how marketable the potatoes may be in the upcoming months. The shortages of potatoes may see an increase in prices and a reduction in availability.

Scott Walker from GB Potatoes said “This season has been exceptionally wet for all growers. The industry has been working tirelessly, even in grueling weather. Severe flooding has caused a loss in potatoes, this is having a catastrophic impact leaving many farmers questioning what they do long-term.”

Aberdeenshire farmer Patrick Sleigh, farming 80 acres of potatoes, including varieties such as Cara and Picasso seeds destined for Egypt and the Canaries.

He explains how he feels relieved to have harvested his crop, but stresses: “The weather is depressing and is not finished yet.

“SEPA needs to get a grip and help farmers. As I recall during the 60s on the River Spey the Scottish Office and Department of Agriculture would use locally sourced quarry rock to structure the river, reduce the risks of flooding, and dredge excessive gravel from the riverbeds.

“Now the rivers are considered off limits to farmers because of rewilding and the introduction of beavers is posing a further threat to the rivers and its force to damage farmland and crops.”

Meanwhile, Sam Patterson who grows Maris Piper potatoes near Anna explained that the wet weather has delayed planting. Harvest was also severely affected by the torrential rain, leaving some areas unable to be lifted.

Sam expressed his apprehension about the storage of potatoes: “We were concerned with mud entering the storage unit although with such devastating conditions, it was at times hard to avoid. As farmers across the country were left in similar circumstances it has been a top priority to ensure we kept our potatoes as clean as possible.”

Excess amounts of mud entering the storage unit could potentially lead to the introduction of bacteria and fungal spores if not managed correctly with clean machinery and storage conditions.