Around 20% of the country’s main crop of potatoes is estimated to be planted so far this year, which is slightly behind compared to a normal year, Shay Phelan of Teagasc has said.

He said that in “other years there could be people finished by the bank holiday, which obviously wasn’t the case this year. The target would be to finish as early in May as possible.”

Planting is “ticking along nicely, but there are still three weeks of planting to be done. Growers have been picking their drier ground, and waiting for heavier ground to dry out so hopefully that ground will be alright this week.”

He said that “all efforts should be into getting the main crops in.

“If a break in the weather comes, or any delay at all, they will be more difficult to handle when it comes to desiccation in autumn.”

Reduce nitrogen

He added: “I would suggest for main crop varieties to reduce nitrogen by about 5% per week, to ensure they are mature in August and September for desiccation.”

With early crops starting to emerge, herbicides will be needed in the next week to 10 days, which he reminded farmers will need damp conditions for application.

Teagasc will be running workshops and field events to discuss blight and the new strain at the end of May and beginning of June, with dates yet to be released.