Once the ground starts to warm up farmers across the UK will be planting their maincrop potato seed. They’ll cultivate the soil and earth it up into the familiar ridge formation along the field. If there are stones or hard clods a destoning machine will be used to effectively sieve them out and create fine soft beds for the potatoes to grow in.
Meanwhile, for growers of Early New potatoes in Cornwall and Ayrshire the plants will already be growing. These areas of the UK benefit from a milder climate generated by the gulf stream and a light sandy soil, so they’re ideal for sowing from February onwards (or January under protective fleece). As they’ll be harvested when they’re small and immature these Earlies can be planted quite shallow, so they feel the benefit of every bit of sunshine warming the ground. They’ll grow through the spring and early summer, ready for the first harvest in late May / early June. Then we’ll know that summer’s arrived!
The lighter coastal soils of Norfolk and Suffolk will have been planted too as soon as they were warm enough. Growers here benefit from an element of maritime climate, with the breeze off the sea keeping the fields largely frost free. These local New potatoes will be close behind Cornish and Ayrshire, harvested green-topped and fluffy-skinned from June onwards.
Here’s a video showing how potatoes grow through the season
We’ve got some delicious springtime recipes for you to try