IFA Potato Chairman Eddie Doyle has said two years of abysmal farm gate prices have resulted in a record low in the area of potatoes planted this year in Ireland.
With harvesting of main crop new season potatoes starting in earnest this week, Department of Agriculture figures reveal the area of potatoes planted in 2015 represents the lowest on record. Between this year and last there has been a drop of 25% in the area planted.
Commenting on the reduced area, IFA Potato Chairman Eddie Doyle said, “I am not surprised. Due to the terrible farm gate prices endured by potato farmers over the past two seasons, we now have only 8000 ha of potatoes in this country and any further drop in this acreage would leave the industry unsustainable.”
The Chairman warned growers need viable farm gate prices this year and the IFA will not tolerate any attempt by merchants or retailers to undermine the market.
According to industry sources, potato yields are likely to be down 20% compared to 2014, due to a combination of wet, cold conditions at planting and one of the driest Junes on record in the eastern part of the country. Potato crops in general are running three weeks behind normal.
In the UK, AHDB has released similar figures, which indicate a drop in planted area of 7.8% from 2014 also leading to a record low in potato area planted. Crops in the UK are behind compared to last year, particularly in Scotland with latest yields described as only average and very variable.
According to the AMI, the situation in the EU has followed a similar trend with plantings down 4.1% on last year. However, the drought in Europe extended into the first week of August and despite significant rainfall since it is considered to be too late for a lot of crops.