Area of potatoes planted in 2017 is the second lowest on record
Attempts to undermine potato market 'will not be tolerated'
The IFA has warned that it will not tolerate any attempts by retailers or merchants to undermine the potato market as harvesting of this year's main crop kicks off.
Ireland harvests around 330,000t of potatoes each year, which is worth between €80-¤90m.
IFA potato chairman Eddie Doyle urged retailers and merchants to pay a viable price to growers this year.
He said potato farmers who store potatoes to ensure a year-round supply have not received sustainable returns over the last number of seasons.
Department of Agriculture figures reveal the area of potatoes planted in 2017 is the second lowest on record at 8,900ha; this should ensure a continuation of the balanced market, Mr Doyle said.
Potato grower Laurence Flynn has been frequently checking the weather forecast as they begin to harvest just outside Swords, Co Dublin.
The five brothers, who operate under the name Paud Flynn and Sons in Rush, grow 1,400ac of grain and potatoes.
Mr Flynn said that traditional potato varieties for the main crop make up the bulk of their plantings. They also supply a number of Italian chip shops.
"They [the chip shops] were all buying English and it was something that we've tapped into," he said.
Dublin agronomist Richard Hackett said the main crop harvest had been delayed this year as a result of the poor weather and most crops were being lifted to order up to now.
However, he predicted that this week's weather should enable farmers to start harvesting the main crop.
The general consensus is that crops have performed well and should yield around 35-37t/ha of saleable potatoes. The health benefits of the humble spud is the focus of this year's National Potato Day which takes place this Friday.
This year's theme is 'Potatoes: What's Under the Skin' and the industry and Bord Bia-led event aims to break the link between spuds and fast foods such as chips and crisps.
Dietician and broadcaster Aoife Hearne will explore cooking methods and provide a raft of healthy recipes for consumers.
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