It is good to see the vegetable processing industry making a comeback in east Cork. While it is still small acres, the area of beetroot being grown for processing is increasing, thanks to the requirements of Ballymaloe Foods in Little Island.
It represents another crop for a market that wants and values Irish produce and every individual crop adds biodiversity to the tillage industry.
There has been increasing production in the region in recent years and Ballymaloe Foods took in and processed up to 160t last year, with production likely to exceed 200t this year. That’s a lot of jars, tubs and buckets of pickled Ballymaloe beetroot products.
For Ballymaloe Foods, the objective is to have product locally grown and processed because that is a trademark of its marketing.
Two local farmers are producing the crop – Joe Hartnett and Darren Allen. Joe has been growing for this market since a chance meeting with Yasmin Hyde of Ballymaloe Foods back in 2013 and Darren began producing it last year.
Together, they grew about 16 acres last year and the intention is to grow 24ac this year. At the time of writing, Darren told me he had some of his eight acres already sown and that he was waiting on seed for the remainder.
He is planting the crop with a four-row precision seeder in destoned raised beds.
Harvesting will take place around August/September using potato machinery.
The variety grown is Pablo and Darren hopes for a yield of about 12t/ac.