Supplies of early potato varieties fall 40pc
A 40pc drop in supplies of early potato varieties like Homeguard and British Queens is on the cards this year due to a shortage of seed potatoes.
Poor yields in the 2012 early seed potato crop, combined with severe delays in fieldwork due to bad ground conditions, are expected to slash the early potato crop by up to 300ha.
Teagasc potato expert Shay Phelan said as each week passed, growers were getting more concerned about the lack of fieldwork and the condition of seed in sprouting trays.
"Seed supplies are down to about 60-70 per cent of normal this year," said Mr Phelan.
"We are expecting the early potato harvest to be around 1,000ha, compared to a normal crop of up to 1,300ha."
Growers are expected to make up some of the shortfall in certified early seed potatoes with some home-saved seed, but they are also trying to source seed from Israel, Cyrpus and Spain.
However, the condition of seed in storage is also a concern.
"In the absence of adequate light many sprouts are already too long and will probably be damaged during planting," said Mr Phelan.