Norfolk-based potato consultant& Simon Alexander said: "The industry cannot continue to stand the storage losses it's seen this season. We need early adopters of best practice on board."
He explained: "The ideal is to have the crops dried within three weeks, but we were seeing four- and even five-week drying periods at the outset. And the subsequent lack of cool, and most importantly dry, air over the winter months limited our opportunities as store managers to dry out the crops without then hitting dew point."
He added that losses to some suppliers due to rots "could probably add up to 10-15 per cent" of the crop.
Head of SBCSR Adrian Cunnington added: "Dealing with the consequences of the mild, external, over-winter climatic conditions in store is now the reality for many growers.
"We received pre-Christmas reports from the worst hit stores of crop breakdowns to such an extent that some stores had to be unloaded. However with AHDB's stocks survey averages showing around 1.9 million tonnes still being held in store at the end of January, expert store management is still a critical area for attention."
Helping store operators to get a strong grip of their storage costs, Nick Blake of Andersons Eastern presented the new AHDB Storage Cost Calculator, available to download free in Excel format from potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/storage-calculator.
"It's a simple, one-page tool that can be populated using basic financial information and the results can really support potato growers in working out the margins or value required for long term and late season decisions," Blake said.