Irish potato growers urged to cut acreage

Potato growers in the Republic of Ireland have been urged to reduce their potato planting area for 2015 in order to improve prices.

Dr Denis Griffin of Teagasc commented, “Last year saw an oversupply of potatoes coming onto the market right across Europe, with prices falling accordingly. We continue to see a decline in potato consumption here in Ireland, so growers should err on the side of caution as they prepare for this year’s planting season. The reality is that potatoes remain a very expensive crop to grow, with costs before storage in the range €2,000/ac to €2,500/ac.”

He also urged growers to plant in the best conditions. “April 1 is the traditional target planting date in this country, but soils in many areas are still quite wet, particularly a couple of inches or so below surface level,” he said. “The preparation of a fine seedbed is critically important, where spuds are concerned.”

Teagasc hopes that its new variety Imagine could also improve margins, and has said that there is scope to increase the production of crops for chipping to replace imports from Europe.

“The fundamental bottom line is that growing potatoes as a commodity crop is no longer a feasible business option in this country,” concluded Dr Griffin. “Growers must develop a value added mentality.”

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