Potato planting for both early and main crops is three weeks behind where is would usually be for this time of year, John Pettit of Teagasc has said.

“Early potatoes are nearly all planted at this stage, but would usually have been finished in the first week of April.

“Main crops, which would usually have started to be planted in the first week of this month, have started to go in over the weekend in some areas, putting them three weeks behind schedule.

“As a result, big growers have a substantial workload in front of them.”

He anticipates the total potato area this year to be around 21,000 acres.

Seed scarcity

“Seed scarcity will cap the area of potatoes planted, as seed was hard got earlier in the year.”

Pettit said that there will be “a short-term shortage of potatoes in stores.

“The main crop won’t be available in plentiful supply. Potatoes are making an unprecedented €750/tonne due to a limited supply.”

“While potato stocks would usually be available into late summer, this stock will not be there this year. I would expect prices to be elevated for June, July and August and consumers to be paying a premium price for potatoes.”

Meath potato grower Thomas McKeown said that “there’s more digging (of last year’s crop) than planting going on here.

“I’ve seen planting start on the 1 April, so we’re three weeks behind.”

He added that “there has been a bit of soakage in the past few days, but it will be the end of the week before we get onto the land.”