Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
Fertiliser prices have soared, the cost of farming equipment has gone up and unrelenting rain means the potato season is behind schedule. Tasmania could be in for a potato shortage and the growers have warned. In Australia, Yolla’s Brett Neal has been growing potatoes for about 40 years, weathering various droughts, rains, and ups and downs in the market. However, it seems a series of unfortunate events have set up this season to be his, and many other growers, toughest yet.
He said not only had persistent rain left the paddocks too clogged and boggy for planting, but that fertiliser costs had skyrocketed by about 40 per cent in the last few months. He believes that the margins are too tight. He believes a lot of growers have decided not to plant. At this stage, they are still going ahead, but if the weather stays like it is then we might have to rethink it. Mr Neal said the profit margins in potatoes had only got smaller over the years, making it a less attractive crop for young farmers to get into.
There’s nothing more rewarding than growing a good crop of potatoes – but the reward is starting to get a bit thin. He said not only were farmers waiting for a break in the weather to plant more but would be hoping for a dry Autumn. Simplot earlier this year negotiated a fertiliser subsidy with growers, to help meet the growing costs. Ms Tubb said those who were able to store it had bought large quantities of fertiliser earlier, missing the rapid price rise of the last few months.