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Severe risk of potato shortage due to wet weather

The Irish Farming Association (IFA) National Potato Chairman Thomas McKeown is warning that there is a severe risk that much of the potato crop will not be harvested if the wet weather continues.

Just 30% of the potato crop has been harvested, half of what is normally harvested by this time of year.

The north east region - where half the national crop is sown - had almost double the average rainfall over the last two months.

The national potato acreage is at the second lowest on record - just 3% above last year's all-time low of 7,900ha.

National Grain Chairman Mark Browne is also warning that there is an impending problem with a large number of tillage farmers who do not have winter cereals planted yet.

Currently, there is almost 20% of the normal area of winter barley planted with less than 5% planted in some areas.

Farmers usually hold off planting until October but say there has not been a planting window since the week of the National Ploughing Championships last month.

According to the IFA, if there is not a significant weather window next week to allow progress for planting then a sizable area will remain unsown as there is a cut-off date for planting most ground around the first week of November.

After this cut-off, the risk of crop failure or poor yield increases substantially so economically it would be more profitable for farmers to plant spring cereals rather than winter cereals.