Comber spuds

Tesco NI Welcomes First Crop of Comber Earlies
Lovers of Comber new potatoes have had to wait an extra couple of weeks to enjoy their favourite potatoes this year due to the wet winter but Tesco NI is pleased to announce their long-awaited arrival in store this week.
Comber Earlies, as they are known, will be in Tesco stores from Saturday, June 18.
Tesco potato supplier Angus Wilson from the Craigavon-based Wilson’s Country say potato farmers were hampered by the very cold and wet winter when planting the much loved Comber potato this year.
Commenting on this year’s late harvest, Angus Wilson said: “Combers are normally planted in February but the incessant rain and cold made for very low soil temperatures and delayed planting until St. Patrick’s Day so, while they are usually harvested during the first week in June, we’ve been delayed this year.
“Poor weather, especially frost, has had an impact on growing conditions but we have worked very closely with our potato farmers to ensure there is a steady supply of Combers this summer so people can enjoy that first taste of summer as soon as possible.”
Potato grower Hugh Chambers, who supplies Tesco NI through Wilson Country from his farm on Reagh Island on the shores of Strangford Lough, has been helped by the recent bout of warm weather which has sped up the growing process.
He explained: “The potato is a sunny crop and the sunshine and heat during the month of May has really helped make up for the bad weather and allowed us get ready for harvesting for mid-June.”
Caoimhe Mannion, Marketing Manager, Tesco NI said: “Tesco NI sources the freshest Northern Irish produce and we are delighted once again to announce the arrival of our new season Comber Earlies which will be available in all our stores from June 18. The fabulous flavour of Comber Earlies is a favourite across the whole of Northern Ireland and beyond and we are delighted to be first to market with them this year.”
The uniqueness of the potato grown around the town of Comber in Co Down has earned it Protected Geographical Indication status in Brussels – similar to the protection enjoyed by the exclusive French Champagne grape.
PGI is awarded by the European Commission to protect and promote named regional food products that have a reputation or noted characteristics specific to an area.
Comber Earlies can only be grown in an area which stretches from the town of Comber to the Ards Peninsula and close to Crossgar, Killyleagh, Saintfield and Carryduff in Co Down. The seed tubers of the potatoes are planted in drills from early January or as soon as conditions allow. This is much earlier than elsewhere in Northern Ireland where planting of second early and main crop varieties does not usually take place until the end of March or later.
The potatoes are normally harvested between the last week of May and the end of July.

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