By FWi staff

POTATO prices are likely to come under increased pressure in the coming season as producers increase their plantings on the back of the better prices seen this season.

A preliminary estimate of growers intentions predicted plantings up 4.7% at 143,000ha. This compares with 136,000ha last year.

“This shows a worrying trend towards over-planting,” said a spokesman from the Scottish Agricultural College.

“The trend appears to be that while large growers, those with 100ha or more are planting less than last year, the smaller growers are planting more.”

But Rob Burrow of the British Potato Council (BPC) said that planting has been slow due to the wet weather and this could change the final figure.

The BPC is issuing warnings while planting is still in progress, hoping to influence farmers decision on the final planting area.

But they havent got long left – many southern regions are over 95% complete with planting.

Northern regions are slightly behind at just over 90% and Scotland is following a little at just above 85% complete.

The majority of growers are now confident of finishing planting by the first week of June, predicted the BPC – a few weeks earlier than in 1998.