NEWS

Donegal farmers fear the worst potato harvest for ten years

Farmers hoping for good spell of weather

Declan Magee

Reporter:

Declan Magee

Email:

editorial@donegaldemocrat.com

Tipperary potato lovers could face shortage of the humble spud

Fears that Donegal could be facing worst potato harvest in a decade

Donegal potato farmers fear they could be facing their worst crop for 10 years due to wet weather.

The IFA has warned there is a severe risk that much of the potato crop will not be harvested if the wet weather continues.

Wet ground conditions have hampered potato harvesting in recent weeks. 

Farmers are hoping for a spell of dry weather to harvest their potato crop before there is a risk of frost.

Potato farmer Charlie Doherty from Burt said farmers are hopeful that a promising forecast for the coming days could help their cause.

Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “Although it is wet today, the forecast is not too bad and after Friday it should be good so we are hopeful we will get something out,” he said. 

Normally farmers would have harvested around 50% of their crop by this stage of the year, but some Donegal farmers have only lifted 20% of theirs, Mr Doherty said.

“We only started making inroads last Friday, Saturday and Monday. The ground conditions have been that bad that it has been very slow and only in the last few days have the ground conditions improved,” he said.

“If November settles down we might be okay. Low-lying areas will have lost crop already but if water is not lying we should be okay as long as frost does not become a problem.

“It takes a few days for the ground to dry again and depending on the amount of rain it could take three or four days.

“It’s a good few years, seven or eight or maybe ten years since it has been this bad. If it comes good in the next few days and the weather stays good, we’ll not be long catching up.”

Nationally, only 30% of the potato crop has been harvested and due to wet conditions, harvesting losses will be higher which will result in lower saleable yields.

The north east of the country, where half of the national crop is sown, growers have experienced almost double the normal average rainfall in August and September. Harvesting of the main crop in this region is three weeks behind last year.