By FWi staff

THE British Potato Council has published a revision of its planting survey for the 1999 crop showing the area planted is greater than originally thought.

The new figures, based on actual grower returns, found the total registered area up 7% on 1998 at 146,479 ha.

This is also up on 1997 when 140,474 ha were planted, noted the BPC.

More than 52% of registered growers increased the area they planted in 1999 with maincrop varieties accounting for the majority of this increase.

Maris Piper was dominant representing 32% of the total maincrop area.

Processing and salad varieties have increased again this year, emphasising growth sections of the market, said the BPC in its weekly price report.

“In contrast, first earlies declined by 3.4% to 10,478 ha and there appears to be strong indications that there will be a further fall next year.”

News of these latest figures has not yet had time to affect the market and prices have remain stable.

Ideal weather over the week saw lifting of maincrop potatoes progress rapidly helping values remain firm.

The BPC weekly GB ex-farm average has inched up £1.58 on the back of firmer contract prices to £70.55/t. This compares with £117.18/t last year and £65.48/t in 1997.