Farm Ireland

Thursday 14 December 2017

Rain sought by potato growers to bulk crop

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Potato growers are fervently hoping for some rain to bulk up the main harvest.

Excellent sowing and early growth rates had led to high expectations for the main harvest, but the dry weather of recent weeks has meant the crop is slow to bulk up.

However, excessive rain is not wanted, as this could cause further problems, such as secondary growth.

IFA potato chairman Thomas Carpenter said the crop still had the potential to recover, but admitted that growth had slowed during the past month.

Drought conditions on the Continent and in eastern England have affected crop yields severely and driven up prices.

There have been some reports of potatoes in the Ukraine being partially baked in the ground, as temperatures soar past 40C.

British prices are running between 30pc and 100pc ahead of the same period in 2009.

Here at home, potato quality is understood to be excellent, with dry-matter content and cooking quality favourable.

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Prices in Ireland are described as only average, having dropped sharply early in the season.

The last of the British Queen variety are selling for €250-350/t bagged, while new season Roosters are making €300-450/t, depending on whether they are boxed or bagged. Kerr's Pink are selling for €400-450/t.

"Every grower is hoping for a good harvest, to recoup some of the losses from last year, much of them weather-related," said Mr Carpenter.

"Plantings were early this year and growth rates were favourable, so everything is running one month ahead of schedule."

Irish Independent