Jersey Royal is still the king of Island crops, report shows

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Last year’s Agricultural Statistics, which were released last week by Growth, Housing and Environment, show that the Island’s early season potato accounts for 95 per cent of all crops.

In 2017, 260 vergées of hemp for cooking oil and fibre production, were grown at Warwick Farm, where tea is also produced, compared to more than 18,000 vergées of potatoes. Tea-growing and ‘super-food’ berry trials are also taking place in Trinity.

‘The uptake of alternative crops is interesting and exciting, with a considerable hemp area planted in 2017 and tea plantations expanding, and the effect of imported genetics continues to improve productivity in the dairy sector,’ Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham said.

The value of the Jersey Royal crop has remained fairly constant since 2010, with growers experiencing a slight improvement in financial returns last year, compared with recent years. Prices vary each year depending on growing conditions and market demand in the UK.

Last year the Island’s premier export crop earned the rural economy £31,589,367 – an increase of more than £1.5 million from 2016.

However, another growing season has passed since the 2017 statistics were collated and the outcome of the 2018 crop – which was severely depleted by severe frosts at the beginning of the year, followed by heavy rainfall – will not be known until next year.

When the value of crops grown for home consumption are included the overall value of the industry for the Island’s economy rose from £42,322,137 in 2016 to £42,528,711.

Of the Island’s total area of 64,612 vergées, 33,301 were farmed in 2017, 12 vergées down compared to 2016. Since 2006, the area of land in agricultural production has remained around 34,000 vergées.

According to the report, the dairy sector is thriving, largely due to the improvements in the Island herd after the lifting ten years ago of the centuries-old ban on importing semen from pure-bred Jersey bulls overseas.

The total cattle numbers may have fallen by 71 in 2017 to 4,842, however, the number of cows producing milk went up from 2,731 to 2,843. And in 2017, yield per cow rose by 126 litres from the previous year.

‘Productivity gains on milk production continue to underpin the dairy sector, with average yields per cow increasing by over 20 per cent over the last seven years,’ the reports says.

‘Successful development of value added products and export opportunities, which now account for a quarter of Jersey Dairy revenues, will play an increasingly important role in ensuring financial stability in this sector.’

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