Seed potatoes

Potato prices have improved sharply in recent weeks, with the GB average gaining a further £9.37/t in the week to 11 April, to £197.69/t ex-farm.

The free-buy average has been similarly buoyant, increasing by £10.48/t in the latest week, to £212.66/t, with free-buy stocks accounting for a larger proportion of the sample than the previous week.

See also: More market prices and trends

The best chipping supplies saw the sharpest increase in price, according to a report by AHDB Potatoes, although some purchasers were looking to source competitively priced imports from France and Belgium.

Demand for Scottish packing supplies was stronger, with price increases for Maris Piper from £180-£200/t in the week to 4 April to £180-£220/t in the week to 11 April.

While demand for bagged ware was only steady, rising prices for chipping samples saw Challenger and Compass varieties gaining £20/t to average £180-£220/t, said the report.

Difficult weather conditions continued to interrupt plantings, severely restricting activity on the lightest soils. “The AHDB Potatoes Grower Panel Planting Survey estimates that around 16,000ha of the GB crop was planted to 9 April,” said the report.

This suggested that plantings were down about 10,000ha on the same week in 2015 and about 24,000ha less than at the same point in 2014.