Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 19 January 2019

Potato yields back over 30pc after weather hits planting and growth

Potatoes.
Potatoes.
Catherine Hurley

Catherine Hurley

Potato farmers saw their crop yields back over 30pc in some cases this year, as the weather impacted planting and growing conditions.

Figures from Teagasc and Bord Bia show that Rooster yields were back 31pc on 2017, while Kerrs Pink yields were back 23pc.

This year's potato harvest had the lowest yielding crops since 2012, according to Teagasc Potato Specialist, Shay Phelan

Late planting, drought, secondary growths, and exceptionally dry conditions at harvest, have had an impact on crop yields and these are reflected in the Bord Bia yield digs, according to Shay.

Rooster yields were back on average to 13.42t/ac, back from 19.48t/ac in 2017 for potatoes sized 50mm-80mm. The lowest tonnage crops were in Dublin.

According to Shay, irrigated crops performed better than those that received no irrigation. He also said the increase was greater in Kerr’s Pink than in Rooster.

However, the increase in yields between irrigated and non-irrigated were not as high as was expected, he said, which may have been due to the number of applications or the availability of water not being sufficient to meet the demands of the crops.

The area of maincrop varieties planted in 2018 also fell from 7,987ha in 2017 to 7,325ha this year.

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Consequently the overall production for the 2018 crop, will be significantly lower than 2017.

CSO figures for 2017 estimate the total crop at 412,000t whereas this year’s crop is likely to be approximately 260,000t, again the lowest since 2012.

Supplies across Europe have fallen 13.5pc this harvest, dropping from 64.6m tonnes in 2017 to 54.4m tonnes this year, as a result of this summer's drought.

The shortage of supplies across the EU has been reflected in a sharp increase in local prices, which have increased to €450-500/t for main-crop varieties.

This represents almost a doubling in price compared to 2017, when supplies generally made €220-280/t.

Industry sources point out that the absence of imported alternatives for the service end of the market has helped put a floor on the trade.

While potatoes for the lower end of the trade - peeled spuds for restaurants and chip shops - made just €60-80/t last year, buyers are having to pay €340-350/t at the moment because they can't import cheaper supplies from Britain or Europe.

While Irish growers supplied 400,000t to the market in 2017, the figure for this harvest is expected to be around 280,000t.

Online Editors