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Friday 20 July 2018

Potato growers turn to irrigation to protect crops

Potato grower Denis O'Connor & his twin sons Aidan & Rory are pictured at Ballyvodock Farm Midleton where he has been irrigating the main crop of Roosters for the past two weeks. 15 ml of water are deposited for every pass over the crop. Photo: O'Gorman Photography.
Potato grower Denis O'Connor & his twin sons Aidan & Rory are pictured at Ballyvodock Farm Midleton where he has been irrigating the main crop of Roosters for the past two weeks. 15 ml of water are deposited for every pass over the crop. Photo: O'Gorman Photography.
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

Potato growers right across the country are being forced to irrigate crops in an effort to protect yields.

Farmers report that the continuing drought is putting serious pressure on potato crops, and that rain will be needed over the next fortnight to prevent significant yield losses.

"Unless potatoes are irrigated, they will be under serious pressure," claimed Michael Hennessy of Teagasc.

"Potato growers are effectively irrigating crops to try and protect yields," he said.

Many growers from Louth to Cork have been irrigating both early varieties and main crop potatoes over the last 10 days.

The late plantings this year due to the atrocious spring weather conditions has left the spud crop more susceptible to drought, explained East Cork tillage farmer Denis O'Connor.

Mr O'Connor, who farms between Midleton and Carrigtwohill, has been irrigating crops close to streams and water courses since last week.

He said that the late planting this year meant that some crops weren't sown until mid-May and received very little rain since.

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If crops were better established and further on in terms of growth they would be better able to take the drought, Mr O'Connor maintained.

"The problem is that crops were planted so late, they just can't take the punishment," he said.

Mr O'Connor said the crops that have been irrigated were doing okay, but those that were not getting water were "in trouble".

"Yields will definitely be hit," he said. "The crops that are not being irrigated are under pressure and if it doesn't rain in the next fortnight to three weeks they'll be in right trouble," Mr O'Connor predicted.

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