Old-crop potato markets have soared over the past fortnight, with the GB weekly average up by more than £18/t, to £195.39 in the week to 13 July.

The free market average was also firmer, adding over £21/t over the past two weeks, to £189.59/t. “Demand for the remaining good quality stocks remains steady, but movement is focused on contracted or pre-bought stocks, supplemented with some imports,” said a report by the Potato Council.

New crop supplies were extremely limited, with wet weather restricting lifting in all regions last week. “In Pembrokeshire demand was good for the few wholecrop salads at £340/t, with some Lady Christl up to £420/t,” said the report. “In Cornwall limited free-buy tonnage was available with wholecrop prices around £300-450/t, but packers were having to source some stocks from other parts of the country to fulfil commitments.”

By 13 July, farmers had lifted an estimated 2,575ha, moving an average of 20.7t/ha. That was well down on last year’s 4,899ha at 30.6t/ha, and the same period in 2010, when 4,727ha had been moved at 24.4t/ha. “Crop development continues to fall well behind normal and the lack of sunshine is inhibiting bulking. Incidents of blackleg are widely reported.”