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substantially due to the drought. The three main cost are:
irrigation; pest and weed control; and harvesting. Where
irrigation is available, it costs in the region of 100/acre
for every 25mm application of water.
The warm and dry weather increased pest and disease
pressure in crops and reduced the effi cacy of available
crop protection measures.
Harvesting a crop like broccoli and caulifl ower, which
normally can be harvested in 2-3 passes, was taking up to
fi ve days due to dry weather eff ects on broccoli maturity
and size. This has labour cost implications.
The report estimates that a signifi cant amount of irrigated
crops presented to market this year run the risk of being
loss making due the additional costs incurred in getting
them there. In crops without irrigation, there is a range
of losses, from complete crop failure to severely reduced
yields of marketable produce.
According to Andy Whelton, Teagasc Horticulture Advisor
based in the south, complete crop failures were occurring
where irrigation was simply not available and frequency of
complete failures accelerated where the moisture defi cit
remained over a protracted period.
Dermot Callaghan, Head of the Teagasc Horticulture
Development Department said: `While the short-term
impacts for growers have been detailed and are acute,
it is important not to lose sight of the possible long
term impacts on the supply base and the viability of the
vegetable enterprises. All actors in the supply chain
growers, Central Distribution Centres, retailers and
consumers all have a responsibility to ensure the long
term viability of an industry that puts local, fresh, top
quality vegetables on the supermarket shelf."
Potato production under pressure
John O'Shea, of O'Shea Farms in Piltown Co Kilkenny
who specialise in carrots and potatoes, confi rmed that
potato growers are suff ering: "It has been an exceptionally
diffi cult year for growing potatoes. In the south east we
were running a month late planting which shortened the
growing season by 20 per cent. After this we suff ered the
worst drought in a generation. We only received 18 mm of
rain from 12th May to 29th July. Coupled with this we had
The stats
DAFM sources estimate that the Horticulture
Industry was worth 433m (farmgate value) in 2016,
which is the fourth highest sector in terms of gross
agricultural commodity output value. Horticulture
Food represented 362m and Amenity Horticulture
71m respectively. Within Horticulture Food output,
Mushrooms accounted for 122m with Potatoes
87m, Field Vegetables 73m, Protected Fruit 38m,
Protected Vegetables 30m and Outdoor Fruit
11m. In relation to Amenity output, Nursery Stock
represented 32m, Protected Crops 19m, Christmas
Trees 10m, Cut Foliage Outdoor Flowers & Bulbs
9m and Turf Grass 1m.
The Bord Bia "Labour Review of Horticulture in
Ireland 2016" estimated that 6,600 were employed
full time in primary production activity with a further
11,000 employed in value added and downstream
businesses (not including the wholesale trade). The
Review calculated that in terms of wages earned, the
total employment value of the horticulture industry
delivered to the Irish economy in 2016 was 479m.
Much of this value sustains rural economies.
Opening of New Teagasc Horticulture,
Forestry and Education Facilities at its campus in Ashtown, Dublin
Over 2.1 million has been invested in facilities including modern glasshouses and polytunnels equipped with
advanced systems for research as well as a turf grass academy. The mushroom research unit has 100m
of growing
area to support a dedicated mushroom research programme. These new facilities underline a Teagasc commitment
to the Horticulture sector and complement already existing facilities on the Ashtown campus, including conference
centre and facilities associated with the Food research programme. The upside to embedding the Horticulture
Development Department, and ultimately the horticulture research programme, on the Ashtown campus will be
three-fold. The opportunity to conduct research and development in new state of the art facilities will be more
appropriate to current commercial requirements; the increased capacity that the Ashtown site provides to cross-
pollinate with the Food research programme cannot be underestimated; opportunities to develop synergies with
horticulture education and forestry colleagues on the site are evident. The new state-of-the-art horticultural facilities
at Teagasc Ashtown must be the spark needed to drive and realise the development potential in horticulture as well
as inspire new blood to take up a career in this innovative industry.
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