9 June 1995

New potatoes weaken

NEW crop potato liftings are gathering pace with 953ha (2355 acres) cleared by June 5.

At the same time, prices continue to ease, with buyers reluctant to risk "going long" of over-priced stocks.

With yields so far averaging 14.2t/ha (5.75t/acre), the PMB estimates the gross return from new potatoes so far this season to be £5986/ha (£2423/acre). At the same time last year yields were similar at 14.1t/ha (5.71t/acre) but the gross return was lower at £5358/ha (£2168/acre).

In Cornwall the trade had fallen to between £280 and £340/t by the start of this week. But many producers are now finding open crops not bulked enough to harvest.

Kent, meanwhile, saw values in the £330 to £400/t range and in Pembroke £300 to £350/t was typical.

The average new season price fell £120 in the week ending June 2 to £344/t. (At the same time in 1994, it stood at £318/t.)

"A brief check to the downward movement could come as we transfer from covered to uncovered crops," says John Anderson at the Scottish Agricultural College.

The downward trend contrasts sharply with the main-crop trade, which rose nearly £35 last week to top £325/t. (The same week last year saw a figure of £163/t.)