Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 18 January 2019

Brexit threatens Irish potato crop for next year

Approximately 40-50pc of the seed for two of the most common potatoes eaten in Ireland, Roosters and Kerrs Pink, comes from the UK.
Approximately 40-50pc of the seed for two of the most common potatoes eaten in Ireland, Roosters and Kerrs Pink, comes from the UK.
Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

Potato growers are being warned to order and import their seed potatoes ahead of Brexit, amid fears a no-deal Brexit could see Ireland face a huge shortage of potatoes.

Approximately 40-50pc of the seed for two of the most common potatoes eaten in Ireland, Roosters and Kerrs Pink, comes from the UK, and Irish growers are being warned to get their seed stocks in ahead of the Brexit deadline of March 29.

Teagasc Potato Specialist, Shay Phelan said disruptions in seed supply could take months to iron out around Brexit and this could delay the supply of seed coming into Ireland while the necessary legislation regarding importation of goods is being implemented.

“In order to have sufficient production levels we looked at out sourcing our seed supply and a lot of it comes from Scotland now. One of the best places in Europe to grow seed is Scotland," he said.

But, in the case of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, seed supply may be stopped altogether until trading agreements are put in place, which could take months, he warned.

He also said that many growers who regularly kept their own home saved seed were forced in many cases to treat the crops that were destined to be kept for seed to help prevent secondary sprouting in storage.

“This will greatly reduce the viability of seed kept from these crops. This source of seed will not be available to growers this year, putting further demand on certified crops.” 

The Teagasc specialist advised potato growers to ensure they have orders and deliveries sorted as early as possible in the New Year.

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“If you haven’t been in contact with your seed supplier up until now, you need to order and take delivery of your full seed requirements as early in the 2019 as you can,” he advised.

“While much of the seed crops were grown in areas that were least affected by the drought in both Ireland and the UK, yields are still likely to be reduced which will put pressure on seed availability.”

Online Editors