The freezing weather conditions of the last fortnight have had a devastating impact on potato producers, with initial estimates showing losses of over €15m on potato crops still in the ground.
IFA National Potato Committee Vice-Chairman Thomas Carpenter said 6,000 acres of potatoes across the country remain unharvested due to the disastrous wet weather in November and early December, and the frost in the last few weeks. Estimates by growers on the ground quantify that at least 75% of these crops will be lost to frost damage.
He said, “this situation is a wipeout for growers who endured a very difficult season with low prices for their produce, rising input costs and the worst weather conditions for years.”
Thomas Carpenter said depending on how quickly temperatures rise and ground conditions improve, farmers may find they have no crop to harvest. The losses will result in a 20% reduction in marketable produce and retailers must respond immediately by paying a viable price to producers for crop in store.
Mr Carpenter also called on the Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith to address the situation and come forward with a support package for those farmers worst affected.
The IFA said the situation regarding field vegetable crops such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots and celery was being monitored. Growers have been unable to harvest these crops in the last few weeks and are not yet in a position to estimate their losses.
In addition, some winter tillage crops, especially winter oats, are becoming vulnerable to severe frost damage following the extended cold spell.