Ireland - Fears of potato shortage as bad weather hits harvest

22.10.2019
Experts are warning of possible shortages of Irish potatoes in the coming months due to extremely wet conditions. Just 30% of the national potato crop has been harvested so far this year, with poor ground conditions making harvesting virtually impossible in some areas. A leading expert in the national farm advisory service Teagasc has warned of, "big big losses" if the current wet ground conditions do not improve. Michael Hennessy, Head of Crops Knowledge Transfer, said the difficulties are impacting the consumer supply chain. He said: "When potatoes come to maturity they don't like sitting in wet ground, if they are sitting in wet ground the potential is there for more rot. Modern potato harvesting sees potatoes being stored in big refrigeration units, perfect for when the consumer wants them, [but] the current conditions make that difficult". In the northeast, where half of the national crop of potatoes is grown, the rainfall in August and September was twice the average. The impact has been very significant with hundreds of acres of potatoes still in the ground. Thomas McKeown, who farms near Navan in Co Meath, said that "the problem is that any rain that falls after this is just going to make it worse, because the ground is at saturation point. The rivers are way up, the Boyne and the Blackwater are very, very high". Mr McKeown who farms potatoes and tillage, has harvested less than 10% of his potatoes due to the poor conditions. He is also the chairperson of the potato committee of the IFA and said there is a concern that all of the national crop will not be harvested this year as a result of the wet weather. The problems do not stop there as only 10-15% of winter crops have so far been planted. Wet conditions are causing significant problems, with ground too wet to plough or prepare for seeding. Winter crops like barley are a valuable and profitable enterprise on many farms and any delay in planting them could impact farmers' incomes in 2020. The big delay in planting crops means that a window of opportunity to get them in the ground may be lost and farmers might be left with no option but to use alternative, later and less profitable crops. Mr Hennessy said: "Since the ploughing championships when there was really fine weather, it started raining after that, and it hasn’t stopped since. That is the very time when people are trying to get potatoes out, maize harvested and all the other crops into the ground. In some counties planting is as low as 5%". Tillage expert Siobhán Walsh who works with farming website Agriland said: "This is serious, only about 10-15% of the winter cereal average was sewn last week, and it hasn’t progressed much further this week, because weather hasn’t allowed it. "Fields are waterlogged and farmers can’t get into their fields. If farmers can’t get the most profitable crops into the ground, the knock on effect next year is a reduction in income". Farmers are facing a hit to their incomes next year if they do not get crops in the ground, and consumers could be looking at fewer Irish potatoes on the shelves next year. Source - https://www.rte.ie
RISK EVENTS

Europe - Around 66,000 ha damaged - 23 million euros in damages

02.07.2021

While Vereinigte Hagelversicherung VVaG reported 30,000 hectares damaged just a few days ago, this figure has more than doubled within a few days. A good 66,000 hectares were registered for regulation from June 18 to 25. This is due to so-called supercells, which came from France through Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to Austria and the Czech Republic, causing hailstorms over a length of several hundred kilometers. Local heavy rainfall with enormous amounts of rain from so-called "water bombs" and hailstones the size of tennis balls caused damage to almost all crops, often with total losses. On June 22 and again on June 24, the damage area stretched from Lake Starnberg via Munich to Passau. In Baden-Württemberg, the Neckar-Alb region was hardest hit on June 21 and, just two days later, the strip from Freiburg via Reutlingen to Esslingen. A locally intense area of damage extended along the North Sea coast in the Groningen-Norden-Aurich triangle on both the Dutch and German sides of the border. In addition, abroad, the polder areas on the IJsselmeer and the Baltic region were particularly affected. After the first surveys, Vereinigte Hagel now expects damage of about 20 to 23 million euros, a doubling compared to the beginning of last week. Supercells and what they are about - currently no end in sight The background to the now considerably higher damage figures are so-called supercells, which have a much higher damage potential than ordinary thunderstorms due to their rotation and longevity. "Their most important feature is the so-called "mesocyclone," a powerful rotating updraft. It creates a negative pressure on the ground so that, like a vacuum cleaner, warm and energetic air can be constantly sucked in at the ground and reach the upper edge of the troposphere (above 10 km altitude). There the warm air is sucked in and there is also the danger of possible tornadoes. Subsequently, in the area of the sinking cold air, it is not uncommon for extreme downbursts to reach the hurricane range. Over time, supercells develop a momentum of their own that prevents the sinking cold air (as compensation for the rising warm air) from entering the warm air area. Thus, the mesocyclone is fed with warm air for several hours. Due to the longevity and massive power of the rotating updraft, hailstones can be flung into the air several times, growing into large hailstones. From Monday through Thursday, conditions in southern Germany were ideal for these rotating monsters. A warm and humid air mass was stored in the lower atmosphere, so to speak the fuel for the engine of the rotating mesocyclones. In addition, the wind near the ground came from an easterly to northeasterly direction (which favored suction), veered nearly 180° to the southwest up to an altitude of about 5 kilometers, and increased significantly. In short, there was sufficient directional and velocity shear. This is a basic requirement for the formation of rotation in the updraft region and helps to prevent the sinking cold air from reaching the front of the thunderstorm cell." And it's set to continue. The DWD forecasts heavy thunderstorms in the south and southwest of Germany on Monday evening, as well as on Tuesday. Experts prepared for this, because in June or July such weather phenomena are not uncommon, as Vereinigte Hagel knows from almost 200 years of experience. Source - https://www.freshplaza.com

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24.08.2021

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