By FWi staff

WITH remaining maincrop supplies in poor demand and attracting weak prices, attention is now turning to the early season.

Cumulative movement for the 1999 early crop up to yesterday (Tuesday) was 648 hectares. This produced 11,277 tonnes and yielded 15.4t/ha, noted the British Potato Council (BPC).

These figures are behind last year which stood at 1,156 ha, 17,745 tonnes and 15.4t/ha over the same period. Values are also down on 1998 with prices on 28 May at £258.33/t compared to £409.39/t in 1998.

With light volumes, prices were easing slightly in Cornwall yesterday at £169-£240/t. In Kent, prices were at £280-£320/t and in Pembrokeshire, £180-£220/t.

New-crop values are higher in Lincolnshire, at £400-£460/t.

Old-crop bulk prices are continuing to ease for Grade 1 stocks at £120-£150/t for average samples. Best packers range between £250-£300/t.

Grade 2 samples are weaker at £100-£150, with value pack difficult to move, selling between £60-£100/t.

Despite these lower prices, contracted material has remained firm, increasing the BPC GB weekly ex-farm average by £4.22 to £156.14/t. With processing sales excluded, the ware average climbed £6.84 to £162.64/t.

Futures values are weak, with November 1999 contracts in London down to £60/t and April 2000 contracts at £88/t. In Amsterdam, April 2000 values are also lower at £80/t.