As the festive season draws near, the Irish potato market is experiencing a unique set of challenges. Retail demand and consumption in Ireland remain strong and are expected to surge further as Christmas approaches. Despite this, the potato farming community faces uncertainties.
As the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports in its weekly potato market update, some progress was made in lifting potatoes over the past week. However, estimating the saleable yield of potatoes currently in store is proving difficult. The yield dig figures for this year have now been published, revealing a concerning trend for two of Ireland’s most popular potato varieties, Rooster and Kerr’s Pink. Both varieties have yielded lower than the five-year average, marking the lowest yield since 2020, a year heavily impacted by drought conditions.
It’s important to note that these figures do not account for field losses or areas that could not be harvested due to waterlogging, according to the IFA. Such losses are anticipated to further reduce the availability of marketable quantities of Rooster and Kerr’s Pink potatoes for the remainder of the season.
The situation is not just a local one. Across Europe, heavier than expected rainfall has significantly disrupted harvesting activities. In Holland, approximately 12 to 15% of the potato crop remains unharvested, with over 10% still in the ground in Belgium.
The upcoming weather forecast, predicting temperatures dropping to -3 to -4 degrees Celsius, casts further uncertainty on the quality of the remaining crop. According to World Potato Markets, about 1.4 million tonnes of potatoes are still in the ground, representing 6% of the potential European crop.