Potato season survives twin threats of weather and Covid
A LEADING exporter of Jersey Royals and one of the Island’s major growers have spoken of their pride in keeping the potato industry going through a difficult 2020 season.
Adverse weather and the Covid-19 pandemic have both contributed to a challenging year for farmers in Jersey.
Christine Hellio, from Manor Farm in St Ouen, said the Island had responded well after facing the initial crisis presented by Coronavirus in March.
‘Covid hasn’t been good for anybody, and at the beginning farmers were very worried – we just didn’t know what was going to happen,’ she said.
‘I think we’re just relieved that the season was able to proceed – yield was down a bit and often the weather was either too wet or too dry, but we’re grateful that we were able to get our produce off the Island.’
Mrs Hellio also paid tribute to the local support that had been evidenced, with a surge in trade for honesty boxes around the Island. ‘Everyone’s had to adapt, but we should be proud that we’ve been able to manage,’ she said.
William Church, director of sales and marketing for the Jersey Royal Company, agreed that 2020 had been challenging.
‘The winter was very wet through until late March, which disrupted the planting, and then there were storms and north-east winds – this meant some fields had to be replanted and we were running almost a month behind schedule,’ he said.
Mr Church said that the delay had meant yields were low during April and May when Jersey Royals would traditionally be at their most popular with consumers in the UK.
‘Export levels were much reduced, and conditions were dry until the start of June,’ he added. ‘The rainfall we’ve had in June and July has been welcome – it came quite late in the season, but has at least meant that we will have a good volume and quality of seedcrop for use next year.’
Although 2020 had failed to match up to an ‘exceptional’ 2019 season, the ability of the industry to keep operating during Covid-19 had shown its resilience, Mr Church added.
‘We were about 10% down on staff numbers, which meant some long hours for staff during peak season, but we got through it and should be well-placed for next year,’ he said.
‘It was massively important that we were able to keep the season on track – the freight boats kept operating and being able to continue sending northbound freight [to the UK] was important for the Island and something we’re proud of.’
Although many growers will be winding down their season in the coming weeks, Mrs Hellio said Manor Farm would be continuing to cultivate late-season Jersey Royals for the local market.
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.