The recent freezing weather threatens to delay cultivation of potatoes. The low temperatures and wet soils have already delayed ploughing in some areas.

Andy Steven, agronomist at Agrovista, has advice for potato growers. He said: “There’s still a lot of ground preparation to be done before planting starts in April, meaning a later start to planting is more likely, and any excess rainfall could also cause greater pressure on the crop.

“Patience and care are vital to ensure that soil preparation is done at the right time without creating compaction, either on the surface or deeper within the soil profile, which can then have an impact on yield.”

Mr Steven also warns that if ploughing is delayed it is vital that seed deliveries arriving on farm are kept in good condition until the soil warms up.

“Be patient or you’ll be increasing the chance of delayed emergence. Look after the seed well before it’s taken to the field by ensuring it’s put in to clean boxes and stored at the appropriate temperature, otherwise humidity and condensation will breed disease."

This should protect against soil borne risks and a tuber treatment can offer defence against disease such as black scab and Rhizoctonia.