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Potato-Planting Impacted By Heavy Rainfall

By Sarah O'Sullivan
Potato-Planting Impacted By Heavy Rainfall

Farmers in Ireland have been unable to plant sufficient potato crops so far this year, due to extremely wet weather.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) cited the perfect storm of wet conditions impacting planting and cold weather driving up potato consumption as putting pressure on Ireland’s potato supply.

In a report from 17 April, the IFA noted that, as wet weather persisted, ‘very little plantings have taken place this week.’

It continued, ‘There is still a significant number of potatoes left unharvested, with no window to attempt harvesting.

‘Even if an opportunity to harvest these potatoes became available, the marketable yield would be negligible at this stage.’

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Rainfall

Rain in March was significant, reaching close to 200% annual expected rainfall in some regions.

Earlier this month, when speaking to Newstalk, the news editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, Amy Forde, said, “With the downpours we’ve had, farmers can’t get into their fields with tractors – it’s too wet, and they can’t do anything.

“Parts of the country are in soup or slop, essentially.”

Typically, by this time of year, farmers have planted 21,000 acres. Reportedly, only 50 acres have been planted so far.

As the weather has improved, it is hoped that planting can resume.

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However, the chair of the potato committee of the IFA, Sean Ryan, told the Financial Times this weekend, “We’re trying to get the fields to dry out to go in to plough.”

Ryan, a farmer himself for 30 years, added, “There might be the odd few farmers who’ve started, but the majority aren’t starting ’til Monday or Tuesday.”

He said, “I’ve never seen anything like this year before.”

‘Climate Change Happening’

In 2017, Teagasc reported that Ireland’s average potato consumption is 85kg per person – two and a half times higher than the world average.

Open-statistics portal the Hegi Library reported that in 2021, the number had risen to 93.5kg per capita.

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With such high demand for the crop, farmers are working hard to plant as soon as possible.

Speaking on Newstalk on 4 April, the Dublin county chair of the IFA, Paul Flynn, said that it would be “very hard to get a full crop this year.”

Flynn noted that the end of April to early May are the key times to catch up with planting.

He said that starting any later would result in a late planting season.

“If we get another late season, we’ll have a huge problem getting crops out of the ground.”

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When asked, Flynn agreed that the extreme weather was “definitely climate change happening,” but urged people to support Irish farmers through the difficult season.

He noted that the impact of importing food will create higher emissions and raise the cost of items.

“We need food,” he said. “The food has to come from somewhere.”

Read More: Irish Retail Demand And Consumption Of Potatoes Remain High

 

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