6 October 1995

Potato plantings above forecasts

LATEST Potato Marketing Board figures showing 1995 plantings up about 6000ha (14,826 acres) on last year have led analysts to revise their estimates of any supply shortfall.

The rise in plantings by 4.2% to almost 147,000ha (363,237 acres) reflects the situation EU-wide, where the potato area is thought to have increased by nearly 5%. Meanwhile, yields across Europe are estimated to be 3% down.

The additional GB area could contribute an extra 350,000t to the domestic supply position, says John Anderson at the Scottish Agricultural College. "It certainly does not look like being the disaster situation that has been suggested," he says.

Prices, which have moved downwards over recent weeks to average £150/t in the week ending Sept 29, are expected to weaken further over the coming months as stocks which have to be moved are sold, says Mr Anderson. Values could then firm at Christmas.