Spud plantings top five-year average
POTATO plantings are slightly higher than last year, despite the lateness of the season due to wet weather.
The British Potato Councils first estimate is 149,600ha (369,572 acres), 3% above last year and a little above the five-year average.
BPC agricultural economist Guy Gagen said: "Considering the wet conditions, we were surprised that plantings are up on last year.
"Growers increased plantings to compensate for a fall in yields. Between 70% and 80% of potatoes were set in May, compared with less than 50% in a normal year."
Early yields have been 4t/ha down, averaging 17t/ha (6.88t/acre). So far, only 37,000t have been loaded, compared with 92,000t this time last year. This is partly due to the late season, but also due to the slow uptake by retailers.
Mr Gagen added:"Prices for earlies have remained stable this week at £151/t bagged, but demand for processing spuds is up to £140-160/t in the south." *