Exports of seed potatoes from Ireland have reduced to very small levels over the past ten years, but the current expansion of potato growing areas in developing countries could present a significant opportunity for Irish potato growers.
The National Potato Conference and Trade Show 2012, organised by IFA, Teagasc and Bord Bia, is taking place in Dublin.
Speaking at the National Potato Conference, Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: ”Opportunities exist for growers to diversify from ware production to stable contract-based seed production if the economics add up. The Teagasc breeding programme, which is one of the most technically advanced in Europe, will continue to breed new varieties of potatoes, both for home and export production, delivering one or two new varieties every year.”
Teagasc and Irish Potato Marketing (IPM) have been working in partnership, breeding potatoes since the 1970’s. Marcel De Souza from IPM pointed out that moving some production from the traditional ware market to seed offers an opportunity to create a more stable market for growers. However he also pointed out constraints to production like a high cost base, and high export quality standards, which growers will have to operate under.” Teagasc potato breeder Denis Griffin said: “Seed potatoes are grown differently to a ware crop with seed size management and elimination of diseased plants through the season and early burn off essential”.
John Sarup from Scottish Agricultural Colleges outlined the correct seed handling and storage management techniques to minimise Black leg from potatoes. “Training staff to remove black leg tubers from picking lines and handling seed is crucial to minimise black leg problems”.