Frost and rain knock new potato supplies

TERRI RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2012
Mike Solari
TERRI RUSSELL/Fairfax NZ

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Otama home grower Mike Solari with his first new potatoes of the season.

Mike Solari
TERRI RUSSELL/Fairfax NZ
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Otama home grower Mike Solari with his first new potatoes of the season.

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People wanting new potatoes with their Christmas dinner may have to ration supplies, with bad weather affecting the numbers available.

A frost that hit parts of Southland about six weeks ago and recent wet and cold conditions have set the box market, as well as the new year's bagged supplies, back by up to a month.

Winton's Go Natural Potatoes owner, Roger Guise, said this year they would have fewer new potatoes than usual before Christmas.

However, he would not comment on pre-Christmas market numbers.

Pypers Produce director Brent Lamb said the wet and cold conditions made for an average growing year and its potatoes, usually dug up in January, would be pushed back to February.

Wilson's Vege Shed owner Kathy Wilson said the recent frost did not directly affect it but could have set others back by about a month.

Home gardeners would have been hit hard, she said.

Otama home grower Mike Solari said the frost set his harvest back by about two weeks, forcing him to buy 30 kilograms of new potatoes from Oamaru - the first year he has had to buy them before Christmas.

For the past 10 years, Mr Solari has been giving new potatoes to organisations such as the Gore Salvation Army and Senior Citizens - some years giving up to 140kg.

Southland wholesalers might hope to obtain their new potatoes from Oamaru but even those supplies were not as generous this season.

The owner of Oamaru's Brydone Growers, Marty Quennell, said the frost last month had also knocked their early potatoes, setting them back about a month.

The cold snap made for slower growth and kept the size of the new potatoes down, Mr Quennell said.

There were likely to be fewer Oamaru potatoes on the market for Christmas than last year.

However, Mr Quennell said he understood the demand was still being met.

Southland, which usually had enough potatoes to cater for the local market, could get more supplies from Oamaru before Christmas to meet demand.

"I think there will be a gap between the Christmas supply and the main crop [in January and February]," he said.

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- The Southland Times

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