The Irish soft fruit industry is flourishing, currently, it is valued at 45 million Euro. The berry sector is one of the most challenging, rewarding and profitable sectors of Irish Horticulture. High-quality berries, very favourable trends in population growth and healthy eating habits should help to drive the sector forward.
The shining star is the strawberry, which dominates approximately 92 percent of the Irish grown berry market. This is followed by the production of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and other minor soft fruits.
Ireland's growers produce about 8000 tonnes of fresh strawberries per year worth an estimated 43 million Euro. The English cultivar 'Malling Centenary' is the most popular cultivar grown. The Dutch cultivar 'Elsanta' had been the most popular cultivar grown for the 40 years. Protected strawberry production is now the mainstay of the soft fruit industry in Ireland. Protective cropping has a number of distinct advantages for the grower including;
- allowing for the supply of fruit outside the traditional short season of June and July.
- Fruit quality is much higher, which is demanded by the consumer today.
Strawberries can now be supplied, and are in demand from March right through to November. To meet this demand many growers use a combination of growing systems
Other Soft Fruits Grown
The most popular cane fruit crop grown in Ireland is the raspberry. There is a demand for high-quality raspberries, but, they must be grown under protective cover either glass or plastic to achieve this standard. Raspberry cropping has changed a lot over the last few years with different varieties and methods used to extend the harvest from May to November.
The market for fresh blueberries has also increased over recent years. Some existing growers have expanded to meet the demand.
Teagasc Berry Seminar 25 April 2019
Adam Whitehouse, NIAB EMR discusses "Malling™ Centenary and Beyond. Progress from the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Programme" at the recent Teagasc Berry Semina
Dr. Mark Else, NIAB EMR, UK discusses the benefits of automated irrigation as well as the latest results from the Water Efficient Technologies (WET) Centre
Barry Caslin, Teagasc discusses the support schemes that are available for renewable heat at the recent Teagasc Berry Seminar