By FWi staff

DRY weather is essential before lifting can get back on target, as the total cleared crop falls further behind last year, reports the British Potato Council.

Lifting has been restricted to light, sandy soils and overall progress remains slow.

Heavier soils, particularly in the north, east and south coast, will require at least a week of dry weather before growers can get on the land.

Last week, clearance was estimated at 33,956 hectares, compared with 43,969ha in 1999.

Meanwhile, loading pressure has disappeared as a result of the present conditions, although growers with suspect crops and those without sufficient storage have fallen behind on sales targets.

Demand, except for best packing supplies, is also lighter this week and further price falls are being reported.

In East Anglia and Lincolnshire prices have remained steady as many growers are still able to lift.

Edward are worth 180-200/t, best Piper 165/t, Estima 100-140/t and reds mainly 10-150/t. Grade 2 samples are from 50/t. Bags are worth from 70-120/t.

Despite lifting difficulties in the south and Wales, prices have also remained firm.

Best bulk whites are fetching 90-125/t up to 150/t for best Piper.

Bag trade is slow, mainly 70-120/t for average grade whites, 80-110/t for reds.

In the Midlands prices are under pressure with bulk set skin whites worth 100-120/t, reds 80-140/t. Bags are mainly 70-100/t.

Bulk whites in the north are worth 70-85/t up to 130-140/t for baker material. Bagged whites are fetching 70-90/t up to 120/t for best.

Drier weather in Scotland saw prices ease today. Best Edwards are fetching 120-140/t, other whites mainly 70-100/t.

Bagged whites are mostly 80-90/t up to 150/t for best Kerrs Pink.

The BPC weekly GB ex-farm average saw a further drop of 5.22/t to 100.91/t excluding bags. This compares with 68.28/t in 1999.