Potato Crop: Wet Weather

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:45 pm on 22nd September 2020.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 2:45 pm, 22nd September 2020

Well, thankfully, we have had a couple of weeks of drier weather, and, for some people, potato harvesting has already started. There is an outstanding issue over an EU-imposed obligation that material that was previously used to burn off potatoes is no longer available. That has caused considerable problems in the desiccation of the potato crops. One suggestion was that, if the plants do not desiccate properly and the stem does not separate from the potatoes, the farmers could flail the potatoes, flail the tops. However, the wet weather has a consequence for that, and it is clearly unsuitable to put heavier tractors and flails in to do that. Farmers would not be capable of doing that, so that is a cause of significant concern.