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Kestrel is certainly one of the few varieties we grow every year. There are several reasons for this and resistance to slug damage is a key one of them. Taste is very high on the list as well alongside consistently large potatoes.
This variety was bred by Dr. Jack Dunnett MBE who is probably the foremost potato breeder during the last 50 years. He was awarded the British Potato Industry Award in 2013 and Kestrel is definitely one of his crowning achievements, at least as far as the amateur gardener in the UK is concerned.
The parents of Kestrel are Solanum vernei x Cara.
APPEARANCE, TASTE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF KESTREL
The Kestrel Potato
The picture above shows just how good this variety of potato looks, bursting with flavour and regularly sized potatoes. Potatoes don't grow well in dry and /or sandy conditions but Kestrel makes the best of it. Not only that it does exceptionally well in heavy soils making it one of the easiest varieties to grow. The plants grow to a medium height so they can withstand windy conditions well. It has no significant weaknesses as far as pest and diseases go and shows some resistance to blight
POSITIVE POINTS FOR KESTREL
One of the few varieties that shows significant resistance to slugs. Superb taste and produces a good crop with great regularity. A great all rounder as far as cooking is concerned.
NEGATIVE POINTS FOR KESTREL
None, we thoroughly recommend this variety.
BUYING KESTREL SEED POTATOES IN THE UK
Kestrel is a common variety of potato which is readily available online and sometimes in garden centres.
We recommend buying your seed potatoes from certified suppliers because those sold in supermarkets for consumption can be a source of disease and pest. We would avoid buying them from online general retailers such as as Amazon or E-bay unless you know exactly who is supplying the seed potatoes.
Buying seed potatoes from the discount store can be a good deal but it can also result in a sub-standard crop. The discount stores take the second quality seed potatoes whereas the more specialist suppliers take the best quality. Unfortunately you will only find this out after you have carefully tended your crop for several months.
Suttons Seeds (a GardenFocused approved supplier) sell Kestrel seed potatoes which are not only correctly certified but they are graded by size to avoid unduly small seed potatoes being sold. Click here for more information and to buy this variety online. A 1kg bag will contain about 11 good sized seed potatoes.
ALTERNATIVES TO KESTREL POTATOES
Finding a comparable alternative to Kestrel is difficult because overall we believe this is one of the best all round potatoes for the amateur gardener. Maybe Nicola is a worthy alternative as is Wilja.
For other potato varieties which we have fully reviewed, click the drop down box below, select a variety and then click the More Information Button.
The planting and harvest dates used below are correct for the UK average. If you want them to be even more accurate and adjusted for your area of the UK click here. It only takes a minute and the adjustment affects every date in this site and lasts for six months.
WHEN TO CHIT / SPROUT KESTREL POTATOES
We recommend that you start chitting / sprouting Kestrel potatoes in the third week of February. This will give them four to five weeks to develop healthy sprouts just at the time when they are ready to be planted out. Keep the potatoes in cool but light conditions to ensure they grow short, green sprouts. Click here for our page dedicated to chitting / sprouting potatoes in the UK and Ireland.
WHEN TO PLANT KESTREL POTATOES
Kestrel potatoes are second earlies potatoes and they are ready for harvest, if conditions are correct, 15 to 17 weeks after the seed potatoes are planted. The key factor governing the time for planting all potatoes is the date of the last frost in your area. Even a touch of frost can damage potato plants if their foliage is above ground, an unexpected severe frost can kill them completely.
The date for planting Kestrel potato seed can be calculated on the basis that seed potatoes will take four weeks before they appear above ground. Given also that you want them to appear above ground only when the danger of frost has passed (the last week of April is the UK average) the last week of March is about right time to plant them.
WHEN TO HARVEST KESTREL POTATOES
The harvest date for all potatoes is not only dependent on when you plant your seed potatoes, it also depends on the weather conditions throughout the growing season. But on average you can expect your potatoes to be ready for harvest some time between the second and last weeks of July in your area of the UK.
COOKING KESTREL POTATOES
Kestrel potatoes are one of the most versatile of all the second earlies and rate highly even when compared with cooking methods normally the preserve of maincrop potatoes. As might be expected of a second early, Kestrel does not perform particularly well when used as a salad potato.
Kestrel boils very well and is full of flavour. The eyes are shallow so peeling is an easy task, the skin is reasonably thin so peeling is not absolutely necessary. One key factor with all garden potatoes for boiling is to let the skin harden slightly and loose some of the moisture content
To help in this, harvest the potatoes a few days before they are need for boiling. If possible let them lay in the sun on a dry surface but storing them inside is nearly as good. If you boil them in their skins the attractive purple blush of the skin remains. Drizzle with a little olive oil after cooking and then sprinkle with chopped parsley for an exquisite looking and tasting potato.
Kestrel is one of the top three varieties for mashed potatoes. Smooth and full of flavour.
Not as big as some of the maincrop potatoes but Kestrel bakes very well. Just remember to bake it for a little less time compared to larger potatoes. Some of the purple flush to the skin will remain making it a very attractive baked potato.
CHIPS, ROASTING AND SAUTE
As with mash, Kestrel is one of the very best for these cooking method, in our opinion the best of them all chips. They maintain their shape well, crisp up well on the outside but are floury and light on the inside.
PEST AND DISEASE RESISTANCE OF KESTREL POTATO
The table below sets out how good or bad Kestrel potato plants are at resisting common pests and diseases in the UK. The 0 point is average with minus (red) values showing lower than average resistance and plus values (green) showing higher than average resistance.
|Late blight - foliage
|Late blight - tubers
|Potato Cyst Nematode
|Potato Cyst Nematode
SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF KESTREL
TYPE: Second early
USE: Excellent all rounder for boiling, mash, roast, chips and sautéing.
SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Very light brown, thin, marked with purple around the shallow eyes
FLESH COLOUR: Cream to yellow
TASTE AND TEXTURE: Top taste
STORAGE: A couple of weeks
POTATO SIZE: Medium, very regular size and shape
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Regularly produces a good yield
SPECIAL FEATURES: Overall one of, possibly the best potatoes for the amateur gardener