Approximately 35% of the 2024 maincrop potato area has now been planted out, according to Wilson’s Country agronomist, Stuart Meredith.

“This figure takes account of growers across the island of Ireland,” he told Agriland.

Co. Armagh-based Wilson’s Country is supplying potatoes to retail and catering customers throughout Ireland. The business has a grower base, which meets this requirement.

“It has been a very slow start to the maincrop planting season. The continuous rain of the past six months has meant that it is only now that ground conditions are coming into shape,” the agronomist continued.

“However, the weather is set fair for the next few days, which will allow growers to get on with much needed field work.”

Potato seed

Seed availability is another challenge that has been confronting potato growers over recent weeks.

“This is a reflection of the very poor crops that were harvested last year. In addition, growers are currently planting seed that has been graded on the basis of a higher size specification,” Meredith continued.

“So, instead of using seed in the range 35mm to 55mm, growers are planting tubers that are 60mm in size. One direct impact of this will be the fact that seed stocks may not go as far as would normally be the case.

“It’s a fundamental fact – larger seed sizes do not travel as far as smaller tubers. So we may well see some growers not having enough seed to cover all the ground they had originally earmarked for potatoes this year,” he added.


Meanwhile, the push to introduce new potato varieties continues apace.

“For the most part, the focus will remain on the well established varietal mix,” Meredith explained.

“But in our own case, we are looking at a number of new options. A case in point is Efera. It can be used for both the packing trade and as a processing variety.”

Looking ahead, the agronomist is aware of the problems posed by the arrival of new blight strains in Ireland and the challenge they will create for the range of fungicides currently available to growers.

“Growers have access to very effective blight chemistries,” he confirmed.

“But timing of application will be critically important in 2024. In practical terms, this will mean spraying crops at seven-day intervals throughout the growing season.

“This will be particularly important over the coming weeks as crops go through their growth phases very quickly. Soft tissue growth within an expanding canopy will be very prone to blight attack,” he concluded.