By FWi Staff

WET conditions continue to delay harvesting, says the British Potato Council.

Prices are wide-ranging, with packing and frying varieties in good demand. Salad, punnet and late new markets are buoyant. Average prices have stabilised following a slump of over £20/t in September.

Prices varied little from last week, with no evidence of price falls. Grade one are selling at between £120 and 150/t but can fetch up to £200/t for best bold samples.

“Best quality Estima are making some of the top prices at present,” said one packer.

Grade two start at £65 for poor Estima, but most varieties range from £75 to £115. Bag sales remain slow starting at £70. Piper is selling at £80-£120, with top prices at £140. Other varieties fetch up to £130.

Cold stores are reported to be filling rapidly, although the BPC noted that the filling of ambient buildings has been delayed by wet conditions. Lifting this week was estimated at 18,529ha, bringing the total so far this season to 77,446ha. This is 55% of the total expected crop. This continues to be behind 1997s harvest when 114,634ha (81%) was recorded at this time of year.

Yields are slightly down on last year, acknowledges the BPC, with present harvestings of 25-70t/ha. This averages at 45t/ha, compared with 47t/ha in 1997.

London futures inched up to £179/t at the end of the week for April contracts with significant rises on the Amsterdam markets seen as well. The BPC Weekly GB ex-farm average price nudged up by £2.02 to £117.18/t. This compares with £65.48 in 1997 and £60.01 in 1996.

With all processing purchases excluded the ware average also firmed at £128.89/t. This compares to only £56.02 in 1997, stressed the BPC.