By FW reporters

POTATO plantings have fallen by 2% compared with last year.

First estimates from the British Potato Council say 137,500 hectares of potatoes have been planted this season.

The figure, based on a sample of producer returns, could help maintain potato prices – especially if the current lower yields run through to maincrop varieties.

“Yields are about two tonnes per hectare lower than last year,” said Rob Burrow, BPC market information manager.

“That doesnt mean the trend will continue, though some crops were planted late and crops need sunshine to bulk and boost dry matters, which could indicate lower yields.”

No shortage of supplies is expected in the long term so best samples could continue to make good premiums.

Midweek prices have risen slightly, as the rain-induced delay to plantings translated into a temporary shortage.

Daily liftings are running at about 8,500 tonnes, about a fifth lower than this time last year. Prices range from £70-180/ tonne and average £123/ tonne.