22 October 1999

BPC figures show potato area up 7%

POTATO growers have raised crop area by 7% this season, according to British Potato Council figures.

Planting returns show the figure stands at almost 146,500ha (362,000 acres), compared with 136,850ha (338,000 acres) last year.

Maincrop varieties accounted for most of the increase. Maris Piper still dominates in that sector, says the BPC, taking almost one-third of the maincrop area. But varieties used for processing, including Hermes, Morene and Sante have also increased significantly, it adds.

It is too early to see any reaction to the planted area on the market yet, says the BPC. Despite good lifting conditions, much produce has been was moved into store and sales remain steady allowing average prices to climb £1.58/t to £70.55/t for the week ending Oct 15, compared with more than £117/t this time last year.

Grade 1 start at £50/t, with most packing material at £60-80/t. Top Edward, Estima and Piper are worth up to £100/t. &#42