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A soggy setback: Ireland’s potato growers face severe losses amidst saturated soils

In Ireland, potato farmers are grappling with significant crop losses due to waterlogged fields, as reported by Joe Mag Raollaigh for RTÉ.ie on Friday.

The unpredictable weather and higher-than-normal rainfall have made 2023 a challenging year for the agricultural sector, particularly affecting potato growers. Sean Ryan, a potato grower from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, and the IFA’s National Potato Chairman, highlights the struggles faced this year. The planting was delayed by five to six weeks, and continuous rain throughout the summer further exacerbated the situation.

In a field visit, Ryan demonstrated how the potatoes, soaked in water for extended periods, have rotted and are unfit for human consumption or even animal feed. Approximately 50% of this year’s potato crop remains unharvested, with machinery bogged down or clogged due to the field conditions.

Shay Phelan, a potato crop specialist with Teagasc in Oakpark, Co Carlow, remarked on the unprecedented volume of crop still in the ground, saying “I am 20 years at this and it’s the first time I’ve seen this volume of crop still in the ground. …What we are saying to guys at this moment is to try and salvage what you can salvage.”

The IFA warns that growers cannot absorb the financial impact if losses worsen. Ryan predicts a potential potato shortage in the new year, as very little has been stored compared to previous years, leaving the situation “very, very tight.”

Source: RTÉ. Read the full story and watch a video
Photo: Some potatoes are not even useable for animal feed. Credit RTÉ

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