Teagasc has warned potato growers of the impact Brexit could have on seed supply, and with extreme weather hitting Irish soil, it has advised farmers to order and import their seed ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
According to Teagasc’s December Potato Newsletter, approximately 40-50% of Rooster and Kerr’s Pink seed, the most commonly eaten potatoes in Ireland, comes from the UK, while for other varieties, it is significantly higher.
Shay Phelan, Teagasc’s potato specialist, warned that after Brexit is triggered, there could be a series delay to the supply of seed coming into Ireland. He also highlighted the worst case scenario that, in a ‘No-Deal’, seed supply may be stopped altogether until trade agreements are put in place.
He added that this process could take months to sort out.
He said that 2018 “is a year that will live long in the memory for many potato growers”, as late planting, drought, secondary growths, and exceptionally dry conditions at harvest all made growing the crop very challenging.
Phelan said that most growers are already in the process of either taking delivery of seed or ordering their requirements for next year.
He also noted that many growers who regularly kept their own home saved seed were forced in many cases to treat the crops destined to be kept for seed to help prevent secondary sprouting in storage.
This, he said, would greatly reduce the viability of seed kept from those crops, and this would not be available to growers as a source of seed.