By FWi staff
FEWER potatoes were grown in Great Britain last year than previously thought, according to the latest estimates released on Friday.
The national crop grown in 1997 is now expected to total 6.653 million tonnes – 174,000 tonnes less than forecast last November.
The British Potato Council revised their production estimate down from 7.027m tonnes after MAFF reduced its estimate of the area planted by about 3,500 hectares.
Total stocks of all potatoes are estimated at 4.320m tonnes at the end of November – the latest month for which figures are available.
According to the BPC figures, yields were well up on the previous year. Early varieties averaged 32.7t/ha (+5.3t); maincrops averaged 48.0t/ha (+2.2t).
But good crop performance was offset by a significant increase in wastage recorded by packers and processors. Levels currently range from 14-20% across the country – around 45% higher than this time last year.