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Potatoes particularly scarce

Ireland: Effect of drought will be felt right through winter

The heat has somewhat subsided in Europe this last week but it is still incredibly dry, even Ireland which is famously cold and wet, is suffering from the drought conditions, it didn't rain at all in June and July and although August has seen some short showers in the north and west of the country the east has remained mostly dry.

Justin Leonard from Jackie Leonard & Sons, based in Dublin, said the temperatures in Ireland have been extremely warm, up to 25 degrees. "This week has cooled off a bit and it has been overcast but it is still warm and dry. It is a disaster for our growers, everything is behind and root crops and salads are suffering. In the last couple of days potatoes have become particularly scarce, there are no old season Roosters to be had. Any new season crops are just not growing."

He says that they would need at least two months of good rain to get back to normal. They are importing from England and Holland but those countries are also suffering. This is driving up the prices for most vegetables, imported glasshouse veg is cheaper due to too much production but this will eventually come to an end.

Denis Harford from GLD Harford, who grows brassicas and root vegetables north of Dublin said the there is around 60ml soil moisture deficit, despite around 40ml having fallen in the last couple of weeks.

"It is mainly the root crops which have been affected and this will be felt right through the winter," according to Denis. "The germination was poor, as was the growth, there will probably be around 50-60% of the normal harvest. We have had a lot of trouble with the broccoli as its an 80 days crop, we have been irrigating through the summer but come autumn people won't want to keep irrigating."

"It is normal to irrigate in the summer but growers won't be able to afford to keep irrigating into September, an estimate would be that it costs around 3 Euro per ml. When you use 30ml each time and then some people have already irrigated more than ten times the cost builds up, then there is the labour, its very labour intensive. There has been no increase in what we get for the produce and there won't be until there is scarcity, which won't come till winter."

Although there are no written contacts with suppliers, Denis said he will fill the retail orders before the wholesale market ones.

There has so far been no help for the vegetable farmers from the government, only for the dairy and stock farmers.

Justin Leonard:
[email protected]
Tel: +353 86 867 4760

Denis Harford:
Tel: +353 87 280 4042