There may have been rain over the past few days, but vegetable growers will be counting the cost of recent drought conditions for a long time to come. Over the past three months vegetable growers have been irrigating crops at every hour of the day.
When the job of irrigating is being carried out crops still need to be harvested, and without any irrigation costs over the past number of years packing and labeling has also become a bigger task and access to labour is making things difficult.
One vegetable grower told AgriLand this week that “if we only got 15-20mm of rain per month it would have been enough to keep a lot of the crops growing without irrigation, but we basically got three months of drought”. That grower has been working all hours of the days and nights for the past 12 to 14 weeks to keep crops growing.
Recent rain in parts of the country and forecast rain may ease irrigation needs in the coming days, but the costs are still huge. Many farms received no rain from the day crops were planted up until last week. The drought of 2018 was similar, but growers were better prepared this season having invested in more irrigation equipment at that time.
In the meantime, prices remain unchanged. One broccoli grower who spoke to AgriLand stated that 8-10c/head more could make a difference to the bottom line and keep people in business.
Crops are reported to be good this season, after all of the hard work that went into irrigation. However, last year’s crops were not as successful. A dry start to the season combined with club root issues has many growers still paying some of last year’s bills and this season’s drought has made things tougher.
IFA calls for increased farm-gate prices
Last week, the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) horticulture committee chairperson, Paul Brophy, stated that the IFA has consistently highlighted the need for increased farm-gate prices for fresh produce.