Potato prices: Rain halts progress in the fields

Wet weather has stopped and delayed lifting of potato crops across the country. There was a big rush on farms last week as growers raced against rainfall warnings to get crops out of the ground.

Up to this time, lifting of maincrop Roosters was progressing well according to this week’s Potato Market Update from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Areas which received less rainfall continue to make some progress in the fields, but reports are of below average yields. Clearance is about 30% complete, according to the IFA.

Demand at retail level is reported to be “quite strong”. However, the lockdown measures introduced to the whole country this week has affected demand from the food-service sector.

National Potato Day

Last Friday (October 2), as part of National Potato Day, the IFA called on consumers to support their local potato growers.

IFA President, Tim Cullinan, stated: “By choosing Irish, you are supporting vital jobs in the rural economy.”

Also Read: ‘Support your local potato growers’ – IFA

The IFA Potato Committee chairperson Thomas McKeown explained that this year has been challenging for growers, particularly those supplying the volatile food-service sector.

If the current situation has taught us anything, it is the importance of supporting local producers. Growers have absorbed all of the extra costs associated with additional measures required on farms.

“Growers must be encouraged to continue producing high-quality crops at a fair price that sustains production,” he said.

Potato prices

Average ex-farm potato prices reported to the IFA were largely unchanged this week with the exception of Kerr Pinks which dropped from €6 last week to €5.50 this week.

Average ex-farm potato prices reported to the IFA on October 7:
  • Roosters box (new-season) – €400;
  • Roosters 10kg bag (new-season) – €4.50;
  • New-season Queens 10kg bag – €6;
  • Kerr Pinks 10kg bag – €5.50.

The UK

It is reported that trade in the UK “remains generally subdued”. Lifting is continuing at a good pace as many growers try to complete work in the next week.

Clearance is reported at 50-75% in the south and midlands. However, in the Fens and Lincolnshire progress is reported to be at 20-30%.

Lifting of ware crops in Scotland is reported to be 60% complete.

Yield increase in Europe

Production in the EU-27 is expected to rise significantly this season to 54.8 million tonnes. This is compared to 51.23 million tonnes last year. However, in 2017 that figure was 56.38 million tonnes.

The report stated: “Physical markets across Europe remain broadly unchanged with processors still only taking very light volumes of free buy material.”