The weather has not been kind to Irish farmers so far this year. Earlier in the year, they had the wettest March/April on record, with 140mm of rainfall recorded when the average for the time of year is 25-30 mm. This meant that growers could not sow the crops, and a gap in supply was predicted. Soils were saturated, so sowing did not happen as planned.
The rain did stop but led to a drought very quickly, which lasted for around 6 weeks, and in general, crops are a month behind.
"It has been very tough," said Stephen McCormack from McCormack Farms. "We had enough water to irrigate, but this increases the workload as well the costs, and planting seeds in very dry soil slows germination. We were a full month behind from where we should be on the salad crop in May and June."
The weather has been mixed lately, and there has been no consistency, Stephen said they have had to go to Demark to get salad crops to fill orders.
"We have only been in full production for a month but importing has cost us yet more money, and we are supplying the retailers and wholesalers at prices which were fixed earlier year."
Planting is continuing, but heavy showers are forecast, and temperatures are too low at night. This is in contrast to a couple of weeks ago when it was much too warm.
"If we get more high temperatures in combination with rain, then we face problems with disease, which is what is forecast next week."
One crop which is doing well for Stephen is basil.
"The basil is grown in unheated glasshouses, the production was increased this year from 1HA to 2. 5HA. quality and supply have been on target, and it is great to have our own supply. The herbs, in general, are doing well, we have full production of basil, coriander, dill, curly parsley, and flat leaf.
"Our Pak choi is also in full production, and quality is excellent, but the first three crops bolted due to cold nights, which was very disappointing,"
The labor situation is also good with enough people to do the work, but Stephen has had to invest in accommodation for the workers as rents in Ireland are just too expensive, and he is having to subitize the rent to help cover the cost of electrical power and other costs for staff, especially in winter and spring.
"We are nearly halfway into the season, and our expectation for demand is very good for over the next few months, we are hoping we don't get any more extreme weather conditions and will finish the season on a high."
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