“What an unusual and variable season 2020 has been,” writes Teagasc potato specialist Shay Phelan in the December issue of the Teagasc potato newsletter. Phelan writes that most growers were able to plant crops earlier than normal, but late frost, followed by severe drought in some areas, excess rainfall in July/August and again in late October made growing the crop very tricky for all growers.
Some growers were finished digging earlier than ever, but in the north west they are still struggling to finish harvesting in very poor soil conditions.
Shay Phelan says the yields recorded show a significant decrease on the 2019 crop and despite the early planting, it was noticeable that in many crops, tuber numbers were low and so yields were always going to be limited.
Despite the drought, only 33% of the crops sampled by Teagasc were irrigated. In the last 10 years only the yields of 2012 and 2018 were lower than the 2020 crop. As a result Rooster yielded lower than the 10 year average of 16.38 t/ac and Kerr’s Pink also below the 10 year average of 13.80 t/ac.
Although production will be lower than last year, the effect of Covid 19 on processing and peeling markets may dampen demand, Phelan writes. However the demand for Roosters and Kerr’s Pink hopefully will remain steady through the spring.