Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Summer heatwave blamed for 25pc drop in potato crop as suppliers warn of price rises

Food for thought: Brendan O’Gorman, far right, harvesting potatoes in Johnstown, Athy, with family members and employees. Photo: Tony Gavin
Food for thought: Brendan O’Gorman, far right, harvesting potatoes in Johnstown, Athy, with family members and employees. Photo: Tony Gavin

Sorcha O'Connor

Consumers can expect the humble spud to possibly double in price over the next year according to suppliers, as the hot weather this summer means the crop is down 25pc this year.

While the country basked in sunshine and heatwave conditions throughout the summer months, the potato crop became dormant in the soil as it was too hot and dry for the potato to grow.

The plant conserved its energy during the dry spell and as a result, a smaller quantity of potatoes is being harvested, with potato size also shrinking.

There was about 8pc less potato seeds planted this year, as the seed has become more expensive.

Grower Brendan O'Gorman, of Johnstown Produce, Co Kildare, said that he also expects to have one less person working for him this year, with less work to be done in the harvest.

"The quantity will be down dramatically, possibly 20pc-25pc," he told the Irish Independent.

It isn't all bad news for growers though, because according to Mr O'Gorman more people tuck into potato-based meals, such as stew, in the winter months.

"Hopefully in two to three weeks all the crop will be up.

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"The cold weather that is forecast helps consumption too - you eat more when it is cold.

"Everyone heads for the potatoes and comfort food."

His positive attitude was mirrored by another grower, Michael Hoey, of Country Crest, in Lusk, Co Dublin.

"Tuber size in most parts is a lot smaller this year. But on the plus side, the taste of Irish potatoes is fantastic this year due to the dry climate giving higher dry matters," he said.

"So what this means is that you will get the same goodness from a much smaller potato."

However, whether potato purchases will be as popular as ever remains to be seen. A price increase is already being seen all over Europe, according to Cyril Curley, a Co Galway-based fruit and vegetable supplier with Curley's Quality Foods.

"I'd say there is a 50pc increase so far and it will go higher," he warned.

His predictions of price increases were echoed by Ronan Sullivan, of Vernon Catering, in Dublin, who said that chipping potatoes will be 60pc up on last year's price, and 100pc up after Christmas.

Rooster potatoes will be 100pc up, with "extreme shortages" expected in the New Year until the fresh harvest in the latter half of 2019.

Irish Independent

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