It’s been an uphill slog for tattie growers desperately trying to lift this year’s crop in some of the worst conditions ever recorded and there are now reports of shortages in supermarkets across the country.
Continued heavy rainfall throughout October and the impact of Storm Babet has taken its toll throughout the UK, particularly on the east coast and in the Angus area, with many growers now lifting at least one month later than usual.
Three generations of the Allison family – Bill, Craig and Rachel – of Ovenstone, Inverarity, Forfar, grow 500 acres of tatties and still have around 60 acres to lift.
They grow 80 acres on owned land and rent the rest of the ground at Kirriemuir, Newtyle and Longforgan.
Growers harvesting one month later than usual
The main varieties grown are Cara, Hermes, Desiree and Maris Piper.
Most of the tatties are exported to Egypt, Morocco, Israel and Saudi Arabia, but the pressure is now on to get them lifted and away by the end of the month.
Around 15 acres of this year’s crop has had to be left in the ground due to being under water and rotten, and the family invested in a second Dewulf harvester last month to speed up production.
Rachel, who drives one of the harvesters, said: “This has been one of the worst years on record as we are usually finished lifting by October 15.
“The quality of what we have lifted has been okay but it’s slow going in some of the fields as the soil is very earthy.
‘Worst year on record’ says tattie grower from Forfar
“Now we are working against the frost in the mornings and the export deadline. Tatties are in big demand this year and supermarkets are certainly looking for more because there are less around.”
She said having two harvesters going this year alongside the windrower has been a good help but the team of 18 staff have been putting in 24-hour shifts – something they have never had to do before.
“We have landed lucky with a great team of employees this season considering the shortage of workers now,” added Rachel.
“We couldn’t make it all happen in the field without our office staff who work hard continuously.
24-hour shifts to lift tatties in time for export
“We also finish cattle and grow spring barley and wheat. This year, we harvested the wheat before the spring barley, which was another first for us due to the weather we have had this year.”
The Press & Journal contacted a number of major supermarkets on a potential potato shortage but there was no reply.