[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
UK potato supplies 'holding up'
Fish and chips
Potato yields are up on last year, the British Potato Council says
It is too early to say if the recent torrential rain will hit UK potato supplies, a trade body has insisted.

Amid reports the wet weather has caused a surge in damaging potato blight, the British Potato Council said unaffected crop yields were higher than last year.

But it is feared the floods could have a devastating impact on pea supplies with an estimated 50% of farmers hit.

"The situation is very serious," said Tim Mudge, from the Processed Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA).

'In jeopardy'

The PVGA's Mr Mudge explained that: "We have thousands of acres of peas under water."

South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, which account for much of the UK's pea production, have been among the worst affected areas.

There is a concern that some farmers will walk away from the crop
Tim Mudge, Processed Vegetable Growers Association

It is feared that, in some areas, more than 30% of annual output could be lost, pushing up prices and endangering the livelihood of many farmers.

"There is a concern that some farmers will walk away from the crop and that could put UK pea production in jeopardy," Mr Mudge added.

If shortages of UK potatoes and peas do result in the autumn, it could cause a sharp increase in prices, affecting everything from fish and chips to packets of crisps.

Crops of green beans, cauliflowers, cabbages and broccoli have also been damaged by the recent deluges, growers said.

While many farmers are counting the cost of the floods, industry bodies said it was too early to say what the ultimate commercial cost would be.

"The full picture of the 2007 crop will not be clear until September or October," the British Potato Council stressed.

It said that crop prices were currently 150-per-tonne, compared with 193 at the same time last year.

With the price a reflection of supply and demand, it suggests that supplies are currently higher than a year ago.

'Full of diseases'

"Planted area in 2007 is 1% higher than in 2006, and to date early crop yields have averaged 9% higher than last year and higher than the previous three years," the British Potato Council (BPC) said in a statement.

"The flooding, whilst causing severe losses for some individual growers, has not impacted on Britain's supply, as yet, to any significant degree."

The BPC's optimism comes despite a National Farmer's Union (NFU) officer warning last week that if there was a potato crop in the UK which did not have the blight fungus "it is a miracle".

"The problem is that conditions are so wet that crops are full of these diseases," said NFU horticulture board chairman Richard Hirst.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific