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Seed Potato Workshop

Farmers from across the country attended the Seed Potato workshop organised by Teagasc, Bord Bia and the IFA in the City North Hotel, Dublin today, Wednesday 4 March.

The workshop addressed the important aspects of seed potato production in Ireland. Seed exports have dwindled from over 10,000 tonnes per annum, a little over 10 years ago, to negligible volumes today. Dr Barry O Reilly, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, addressed the conference about the new EU regulations governing seed certification and also the standards seed must pass to qualify in each seed category and grade. He said: “The changes implemented by the new rules will harmonise seed certification grading systems and standards across Europe”.

The workshop was joined by Dr Jan van der Wolf, an international expert on the potato disease Blackleg from Wageningen University. Dr. van der Wolf outlined the importance of blackleg in an Irish context and gave solid recommendations to help farmers deal with the disease. “Blackleg is a huge problem when producing seed potatoes and the wetter climate in Ireland suits its development,” said Dr. van der Wolf. “Eradication is impossible but careful management in field and storage is essential,” he added.

Dr Denis Griffin, Teagasc, Oak Park outlined how growers should focus on specialised seed potato production, rather than dual cropping, and outlined the major steps to achieving this. The workshop allowed ample time for discussion and to interact with Teagasc staff from Oak Park who presented the latest research findings in virus and potato cyst nematode.