By FWi staff

AS the 2000 potato season continues to be hampered by atrocious weather conditions, all is not lost for next season, with the first plantings in Cornwall under way.

“Planting started in the first week of January, and 40ha have been completed,” says Rob Burrow of the British Potato Council.

“Token planting has also started in Pembrokeshire, but rain has put a stop to further progress.”

Slightly drier weather last week and over the weekend has allowed some harvesting to take place, but for most growers salvaging crops remains impossible in the short term, reports the BPC.

“In some cases, growers have resorted to hand lifting, and reported at least 50% of the original yield was still saleable.

“But it is expected more crops will eventually be written off,” says Mr Burrow.

Total clearance is now estimated at 126,000ha, leaving about 16,500ha still to lift.

Demand remained slow last week resulting in reduced movement in both the bulk and packing and bag ware sectors. In the processing sector, deliveries were also steady.

“Most trading was for lower grade material, where prices eased. But in the quality market prices remain firm,” says Mr Burrow.

In Wales and the south bulk prices remain unchanged on last week. Bags are slightly firmer for some varieties with best reds up 20 to 140/t.

Whites are mostly 105-115/t up to 150/t for best Maris Piper.

Bulk whites in eastern and western regions are mostly 150-190/t up to 280/t for best Edward and 250/t for Maris Piper and Desiree. Reds are worth up to 250/t.

Bag prices remain unchanged.

In the north and Scotland prices have eased slightly. Best bulk Edward are down 30 to 170/t, reds are steady at 170/t for best. In northern England Edward have dropped 20 to 200/t for best and reds are down to 130-200/t.

Other whites are mostly 100-130/t up to 150/t in Scotland and 200/t in northern England. Bagged Maris Piper are fetching up to 110/t in Scotland and 140/t south of the border.

The BPC weekly GB ex-farm average price fell slightly last week with a 1.83 dip to 117.14/t excluding bags.