First Royals planted – with hopes for better season than last year’s

THE first Jersey Royals have been planted – with farmers hoping for better luck than last year when downpours and lockdown combined to create the ‘worst season in living memory’.

Planting Jersey Royals at L'Etacq. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30009189)
Planting Jersey Royals at L'Etacq. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30009189)

The beginning of the year marks the traditional start of the Jersey Royal planting season, and drier conditions over the weekend allowed work to start at a number of fields across the Island.

Jersey Farmers Union president Peter Le Maistre said that growers were hoping for more of the same weather, especially following an unusually wet period before Christmas.

‘Planting generally starts from 2 January and we had a little spell over the weekend, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, when it was all dry,’ he said.

‘So, there were some small amounts that went in the ground but it has all stopped again for a couple of days. It looks like the weather might get a bit better this weekend, so we’d like to get a few more in, if we can.

‘At the moment no one is panicking because it’s still quite early in the season but we’d like to see some more dry weather, so we can get on with planting.

‘We had a very wet October and a very wet December, so the ground will take a bit of drying out.

‘It’s not a case of it’s stopped raining so you can plant straight away.’

Mr Le Maistre said that wet weather disrupted planting last year and farmers struggled to meet the high demand for Jersey Royals that was brought on by good weather in the later spring months.

‘Last year the harvest was pretty disappointing, to be honest, and we wouldn’t like to see a repeat of the planting conditions we had in 2020,’ he said.

‘It was basically wet all the way through from January really until mid-March and we really wouldn’t want to see that again.

‘Last year was very poor planting, probably the worst season in living memory, and it was compounded by lockdown, and then we had very fine and nice weather in April and May, so the demand was quite good.

‘We were in a difficult situation where we didn’t want to take too much of the crop out of the ground, but we had to keep digging because the demand was there.

‘It was a bit difficult.’

He added that a good deal of farm workers from overseas had not returned home over the Christmas period, instead opting to stay in Jersey, due to the travel difficulties caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

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