Irlanda: No potato shortage this Christmas farmers say but price of spuds could rise
There will be no shortages and no famine, claims a Meath farmer in response to public fears about a scarcity of potatoes this Christmas.
Ivan Curran is still trying to get his crops out of waterlogged plains over his 700-acre farm in Stamullen in what he believes is the worst year for growing potatoes in his 40 years in agriculture.
Mr Curran yields 11,000t of potatoes in a good year but expects 10pc this year to be left in fields which are too wet for his machinery to access.
About 40pc of his crop are Roosters which go to supermarkets for sale and 60pc is destined for the Tayto factory in nearby Curragha for crisps.
"You may see potatoes becoming more expensive due to a much lower yield from farmers all over the country and increased cost of production, but there certainly won’t be a famine," he said.
"2012 was a bad year for growing but this has been the worst ever that I can remember. Planting was late because of the wet weather, then it was dry when we needed the rain for the tubers and now the recent rainfall meant a perfect storm for potatoes.
"I’ve easily lost at least 15pc of my yield this year. We have managed to put some in storage but we haven’t checked them yet so chances are there is about 25pc wastage.
"I’m harvesting about 70pc less a day than normal due to the weather and ground conditions.
"We have had to use diggers to pull out the harvesters that got stuck in the ground, that’s how wet it is. The hardest working man on any farm right now is the driver of the harvester.
"Seed is going to be scarce next year and there will be no surplus potatoes going into next year but there will be potatoes for the Christmas table and into 2024."
Meanwhile, heritage potato grower Maria Flynn from outside Drogheda, Co. Louth is having to hand dig the crops on her farm because the ground is too wet to use their machinery.
Maria supplies many restaurants with her heirloom purple potatoes of Violetta, Pink Fir and Red Emmalie varieties.
As well as the heritage varieties, Maria and her husband David grow Roosters and Kerr Pinks.
"All harvesting is normally finished by October but we still have up to 40pc left of our national potato crop still in the ground for all farmers nationwide.
"We are hand digging at the minute but we have to leave behind any potatoes that have been lying in water.
"Between blight and bad weather, we already had losses but the recent deluge put the tin hat on it. The ground is saturated and won’t dry now until the east winds come in March.
"There are enough potatoes to go around and will be but consumers might expect to pay an increased price for them.
"We don’t want sympathy but we do want people to understand what we are up against here and how the wet weather really has destroyed much of the potato crop this year."