Commodity watch

Friday, 18 October, 2019

Commodity watch by UFU senior policy officer Patricia Erwin 

Potatoes

UFU remind growers on final use update for diquat  

Diquat has played an important role in growers' rapid desiccation of potato crop haulm, to enable cost effective harvesting of clean tubers.

The EU Commission confirmed its decision to withdraw the approval of diquat, the active ingredient in Reglone and Retro.

In October 2018, the European Commission decided to implement its proposal not to renew its approval in the EU. This decision applies to all products containing diquat and the decision was based on concerns related to the precautionary principle of exposure of bystanders, residents, and birds. The Ulster Farmers’ Union and other farming unions lobbied on behalf of the industry, however, the chemicals regulation division of the Health and Safety Executive, confirmed the date for diquat products to be withdrawn from the market was 31st July 2019, with a use-up period for growers up to 4th February 2020.

Robert Sibbett, UFU potato policy chair, has highlighted that AHDB trials have suggested other products are available and were reported to be effective and just as good as Reglone. The UFU reminds growers that this product will not be available for desiccation of crop in 2020. 

Committee will meet on Monday 4th November 2019 and updates will include presentations on storage from CAFRE and growers, plant health – what we know and understand to-date, and discussion about the next steps for the Northern Ireland potato promotion campaign. 

Celebrating horticulture at home  (photo 2 of David Brown)

At a time of huge political and commercial change, the UFU Vegetable committee hosted a special event ‘celebrating horticulture at home’. Prominent figures from across the Northern Ireland horticulture industry came together at Hillsborough Castle. Yellow Door provided a delicious dinner serving homegrown produce from the walled garden highlighting the importance and flavour of local seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Special guest speakers shared their thoughts about the future for horticulture and encouraged the sector to own and navigate, a new timely roadmap securing the navigational tools required to allow the sector to grow.

UFU deputy president, David Brown, said the ‘take home message’ from the evening was to take ownership of the future, be positive and innovative and move in harmony with one united voice.      

Next steps - UFU vegetable chairman Adrian Magowan, invites all in the industry to take this message, act now, step up and take ownership of their future, and attend this important follow-up meeting on Wednesday 23rd October 2019 in McBrides Comber at 8pm. Invest NI and Food NI representatives, will be attending to help the industry explore strategy moving forward.

 

Randox NI Potato Festival

Northern Ireland's favourite potato-themed festival was back, bigger and better than ever, on Saturday 5th October 2019, boosted once more by the continued partnership with headline sponsor Randox. Set against the backdrop of the world-famous Giant's Causeway, the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival was a mix of family fun, a celebration of world-renowned potato breeder John Clarke, and a chance to sample the delights of the agri-food industry which thrives in the Causeway Coast and Glens.

Now in its 6th year, the UFU president Ivor Ferguson and deputy president Victor Chestnutt, met many visitors, supported our potato industry and participated in a live radio interview with Q radio from its very popular broadcast bus. Mighty Spud greeted visitors from far and near and helped educate all on the benefits of including potato in their daily diet. 

Dates for your diary

Open Vegetable Meeting             Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at McBrides Comber

Richhill Apple Fayre                     Saturday 26th October 2019 at Richhill

2020 Arable Conference              Tuesday 15th January 2020 at CAFRE Greenmount