Chipping away at spud imports - Farmers seeking to unearth the potential of salad potatoes
Farm organisations are seeking to unearth the potential of salad potatoes and chipping potatoes in order to reduce our reliance on imports.
The production of salad potatoes in Ireland has increased by 2,500 tonnes as a result of an initiative undertaken by Teagasc, Bord Bia and the IFA over the last three years.
In 2014, Ireland's salad potatoes accounted for 350 acres of land and supplied 5,000 tonnes. In 2017, production is estimated to account for 550 acres, with 7,500 tonnes going to the market.
Michael Hennessy (pictured) of Teagasc says the production of salad potatoes also allows potato producers who are growing mainly Roosters the opportunity to diversify.
"All existing salad potato growers in Ireland have increased their production and the project has attracted some new growers," he told the Farming Independent.
"Salad potatoes can be sown later and harvested earlier, which is another advantage to farmers. They also have the potential for higher revenue as they are a premium product.
"They offer a form of farm diversification within existing farm production rather than putting all your eggs in the traditional potato market."
The growth of salad potatoes requires "greater skill and attention to detail" than traditional potatoes as the market demands a narrow spec size and blemish-free skins. Targeted events were held as part of the initiative over a three-year period to discuss and demonstrate the agronomic and storage issues of growing salad potatoes.