BPC says potato plantings down 5%

POTATO PLANTINGS could be down as much as 5.5% to 121,400ha (300,000 acres) in the UK, the British Potato Council has said.

Its first plantings estimate predicted the fall based on an unregistered area of 9.5%, slightly lower than last year.

Head of market information, Denis Alder, said the situation was similar across Europe.

“We have information that EU plantings are down 5-6% as well. It tends to be a cyclical trading picture, so the fall is compensation for low prices last season.

“A lot now depends on the weather. If it is anything less than ideal, then it could push prices up. Realistically, though, it’s probably too late for ideal weather conditions now.”

April 2006 potato futures were slightly down on the week to £146.21/t, but Mr Alder predicted a rise when the markets had absorbed the plantings data.

And that is good news for farmers, because the spot market for the coming season is expected to be more sluggish than in the past because of changes to contracts.

“Big suppliers have stipulated in their contracts with growers that they will not buy extra tonnages, as they have done in the past, and that’s made growers more cautious about planting.”

Registered and total plantings by crop year
(in thousands ha, 2005 estimated)

1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
BPC registered area 145.5 133.9 131.6 128.4 115.0 118.9 113.3
Adjustment for unregistered area 6.9% 9.2% 11.2% 8.0% 8.5% 10.1% 9.5%
Total plantings 155.6 146.2 146.4 138.7 124.8 130.9 124.1


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