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Irish agronomist: “Potato growers’ reliance on one variety is coming home to roost with a vengeance”

Tillage tests many aspects of a farmer’s character and this autumn has certainly tested their reserves of patience, writes Richard Hackett, agronomist based in north Co Dublin in an article published in Farming Independent.

It has been a stressful drag on most growers. At this point of the season, a lot of land won’t now be sown until the spring, Mr Hackett writes.

One crop that has really tested patience this year is potatoes. It has been a wet harvest season, a very wet season, but we are not blameless on this one.

“What we have allowed to happen in the potato industry is make ourselves completely reliant on good weather in the second half of October and first two weeks of November to get the harvest into the store. As a risk management strategy, it’s not really foolproof,” Hackett writes.

The reason this has happened is the industry’s complete reliance on one variety, Rooster.

Rooster takes 160 days to mature from planting, so for a crop planted in the first half of May, it won’t be mature for desiccation until the first half of October. Factor in three to four weeks from desiccation to the crop being mature enough for storage, and you can see where the risk lies.

Surely there has to be a better way? Well, there is, according to Mr Hackett. 

Read the full article in Farming Independent here