Speaking at a recent Seed Potato Workshop, IFA Potato Chairman Eddie Doyle called on all stakeholders to support and revive the Irish seed potato industry. The workshop was organised by IFA, Teagasc and Bord Bia.
“In the past, Ireland had a thriving seed potato export industry but today this has deteriorated to the point that Ireland imports much of the potato seed we currently plant,” said Mr Doyle.
“This is reflected in the area of certified seed planted in the country, which has halved in five years falling from 483ha in 2010 to 218ha in 2014. Ireland has the potential to rejuvenate this sector much like Scotland, which produces 50,000 tonnes of seed per year, much of which is exported. To achieve this, all stakeholders much create an environment and structure where the sector can thrive,” said the IFA Chairman.
The workshop addressed the important aspects of seed potato production in Ireland and was addressed by Dr Barry O Reilly, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who spoke on the new EU regulations governing seed certification and the standards seed must pass to qualify in each seed category and grade.
Dr Jan van der Wolf, an international expert on the potato disease Blackleg from Wageningen University outlined the importance of Blackleg in an Irish context and gave solid recommendations to help farmers deal with the disease. “Blackleg is a huge problem when producing seed potatoes and the wetter climate in Ireland suits its development,” said Dr. van der Wolf. “Eradication is impossible but careful management in field and storage is essential,” he added.
Dr Denis Griffin, Teagasc, Oak Park outlined how growers should focus on specialised seed potato production, rather than dual cropping, and outlined the major steps to achieving this. The workshop allowed ample time for discussion and to interact with Teagasc staff from Oak Park who presented the latest research findings in virus and potato cyst nematode.