A new strain of potato blight, first recorded in Ireland last year, is causing concern for potato growers, according to Teagasc crops specialist Shay Phelan.

“There is blight around. We have seen some cases in early crops. We are nervous that this new strain EU43, which is resistant to some fungicides, could be present in the population,” he told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“There were two cases identified in the country last year, so it is probably more widespread than we think. Growers need to be aware of this and take action to prevent further spread.”

He is advising growers to use as many modes of control possible.

“Not only in terms of sprays, but cultural control too – by moving possible sources of infections, we are wary that they could contribute to the spread of blight.”

Phelan advised caution when it comes to amateur growers of potatoes, saying: “Be aware that amateur growers, such as garden growers, could be a potential source of infection too.”

He explained that Teagasc’s blight control programme is looking at products to control each strain, and examining each individual situation.

Nitrogen use

With regards to fertilisers, Phelan acknowledged that a lot of people might be trying to drive their crops on with nitrogen.

However, he is advising against this. “I know it may be counterintuitive, but I would be saying the opposite.

“At this stage, crops should have sufficient nitrogen. Putting on late nitrogen delays desiccation and maturity of the crop, and may reduce dry matter.”

He said that if there is a case of trace element deficiencies, to maybe look at something, but reiterated that crops should have sufficient N at this stage.

Harvest shortfall

Lower harvest yields are widely expected this year, with Niamh Brennan, the IFA’s policy executive, noting 2024 to be “one of the latest planting years for potato growers because of the unprecedented wet spring, with many growers in the southeast only finished planting a week ago”.

Brennan explained that this is likely to affect both harvest date and harvest yield. Due to late planting, “numbers may not materialise and yield may be reduced”, she warned.

As regards the current stock situation, she said that “stocks are very tight at present”.

“Some early potatoes will be coming into the market in the next few weeks, which will ease the pressure on supply. Some reports from early growers suggest that yields are very modest.”


“Current potato prices are somewhat reflecting the cost of production but have come off the back of unsustainable prices for the previous years.

New season Roosters are between €700 and €800 per box, with Kerr Pinks at €9-10/kg.

“The input costs for the potatoes currently on the shelf were an all-time high. When these potatoes were planted, inputs such as seed and fertiliser were very expensive,” Brennan said.

Seed availability is an ongoing problem and will be even more challenging next year.


The outlook for the early potato crop “isn’t great”, according to Seán Ryan, IFA potato chair, due to cold nights which have hampered growth. “They didn’t get a fair chance. The stalk is short. This will result in less tonnage on the early potatoes.”

The tonnage of later-sown potatoes “all depends on the growing season”, Ryan said.

“If they get heat and rain they’ll be as good as any. They will be late harvested. If frosty weather comes, you could have problems.”

Both Brennan and Ryan highlighted that current prices need to be sustained for a viable potato industry.