Potato Council urges action on bruising

Better harvesting techniques will lessen bruising, which costs growers £26m a year, council says.

The Potato Council has called on growers to make quality assessments at all stages of harvesting, from lifting to store loading, to counter the £26m a year lost to bruising.

"Bruising also does untold damage to consumer confidence," said Potato Council technical executive Gary Collins. "Undamaged potatoes are the first thing shoppers look for.

"Growers shouldn't adopt the one-size-fits-all approach to harvester set-up. Settings should be altered for each crop in accordance with soil conditions."

Scottish Agronomy senior agronomist Eric Anderson said: "Our understanding of bruising susceptibility has moved on in recent years. We now know more about a crop's predisposition to damage, although this only becomes evident when you put the harvester through.

"Sensitivity depends on variety, tuber size, shape and firmness, age, nutrition and soil type and temperature. A good on-farm risk-assessment system will help pinpoint where bruising occurs and help growers avoid costly rejections."

He added: "Growers should check areas such as separation, clod and stone removal, correct machinery set-up and tractor wheel size and track width before sowing."

Further Potato Council-sponsored research on the relationship between bruise susceptibility and tuber cell wall and mechanical properties is ongoing at the University of Leeds and Cambridge University Farm.

The colour purple

What are said to be Britain's first-ever purple-fleshed potatoes went on sale at Sainsbury's earlier this month, in time for some ghoulish Halloween-themed cooking.

Just 400 tonnes of the Purple Majesty variety have been grown in Scotland for the retailer by Albert Bartlett.

They retail at £1.50 for a 1.25kg bag.

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