By FWi staff

PROGRESS in the potato fields remains limited, with continued heavy rain making salvaging of the 1998 crop very difficult.

The planting of new-crop is slow as machinery was static for much of last week, noted the British Potato Council.

And with the exception of best packing material, prices have continued to come under pressure as producers empty stores.

Grade 1 material has remained firm at £180-£220/t, with reds between £240-£280/t. Top quality Edward is at £295/t, and Cara tops the market at £320/t.

Grade 2 material is suffering from particularly poor samples, which have now fallen between £80-£100/t. Value material is firmer at £120-£170/t.

Bag trade is limited, with the only real interest in frying material. Values are £120-£130/t, with Piper at £165-£200/t. Best samples can fetch as much as £260/t, with whites at £130-£200/t.

Reds are starting at £130/t, with most between £160-£180/t and up to £250/t for top Cara. Best Edward are at £260/t.

Despite the wet weather and increased pressure on the market, the BPC weekly ex-farm average price scarcely changed at £179.81/t. This compares with £82.51 in 1998 and £56.43/t in 1997.

With uncertainty in the processing market the ware-only sector fell £2.85 to £190.38/t.

UK futures remain steady at £290/t, while in Amsterdam they edged up to £215/t at the end of last week.