Forward selling urged English early new potato growers ­ still reeling from a poor season when prices crashed for many because of oversupply ­ have been advised that the most effective strategy to avoid the situation being repeated in future years is to concentrate on selling forward before planting commences. This is the judgement of Rob Burrows, market information manager of the British Potato Council, who has plotted progress of the industry with weekly reports for seven years. The BPC has a five year strategy begun in 1997 to enhance the consumer perception of the crop which chairman David Walker accepts will be hard. This spring average prices were £115.7/tonne, the lowest for four years, although the 85,217 tonnes moved was actually less than 1997 and 1998. The season faced a slow start and never recovered as ideal growing conditions meant crops were doubling in weight weekly. Reviewing the season prior to the major Potato 99 exhibition at Newark, Burrows said: "Growers should not rely on a verbal agreement as a promise. Large multiples will buy from anywhere to satisfy the year round demand for new potatoes." Apart from traditional Mediterranean competition in the spring, consumers are also becoming used to buying washed, set skin varieties the rest of the year. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}