Severe risk of potato shortage due to wet weather

Severe risk of potato shortage due to wet weather

The Irish Farming Association (IFA) National Potato Chairman Thomas McKeown is warning that there is a severe risk that much of the potato crop will not be harvested if the wet weather continues.

Just 30% of the potato crop has been harvested, half of what is normally harvested by this time of year.

The north east region - where half the national crop is sown - had almost double the average rainfall over the last two months.

The national potato acreage is at the second lowest on record - just 3% above last year's all-time low of 7,900ha.

National Grain Chairman Mark Browne is also warning that there is an impending problem with a large number of tillage farmers who do not have winter cereals planted yet.

Currently, there is almost 20% of the normal area of winter barley planted with less than 5% planted in some areas.

Farmers usually hold off planting until October but say there has not been a planting window since the week of the National Ploughing Championships last month.

According to the IFA, if there is not a significant weather window next week to allow progress for planting then a sizable area will remain unsown as there is a cut-off date for planting most ground around the first week of November.

After this cut-off, the risk of crop failure or poor yield increases substantially so economically it would be more profitable for farmers to plant spring cereals rather than winter cereals.

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