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Northern Ireland: Great weather for spuds sees harvest arrive fortnight early

Harvesting potatoesNorthern Ireland’s main crop potatoes are being harvested two weeks ahead of schedule after a year of perfect growing conditions. The favourable conditions also contributed to an overall 5% increase in the total acreage of potatoes grown here – a trend replicated in the Republic and in Britain. Angus Wilson, chief executive with Wilson’s Country Ltd potato growers in Portadown, said the first potatoes will be harvested during the second week of July. “This is almost a fortnight ahead of the usual start date to the season,” he said. “The combination of heat, sunlight and moisture that has characterised the weather over recent weeks has ensured that growth rates have been above average.” Mr Wilson warned the good conditions and increased acreage could mean an oversupply of potatoes, which may hurt prices for farmers. “The market is finely balanced. It’d take a small degree of oversupply to have a severe impact on grower returns.” More