Southern potato farmers despair

27.09.2021 - 10:48
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The wet weather this summer and autumn in southwest Iceland is causing a major headache for the region’s potato farmers. Þykkvibær, one of the country’s best-known potato producers, is suffering a mould outbreak in its potato beds for the first time in 20 years and the soil is too wet for harvesting machines to get to work.

The weather has been particularly problematic for farmers in the southern half of the country in recent weeks. The hay harvest was not bad this summer, but some farmers have been unable to finish their final mows because of rain. Combine harvesters are sitting in barns unused while the wet grain crops sit out in the fields slowly deteriorating. A significant part of the Þykkvibær potato harvest remains in the ground. 

“Everything just wet, and there’s been mould since July, coming now for the first time after 20 years. It’s an enormous bother and just mud. The beds are destroyed by mould, it’s devastating,” says one of the potato farmers, Kristján Ingi Þórðarson. 

Why is there mould? 

“It comes because of the atmosphere. If it is damp and no sun, but also warm, then it comes in from somewhere. It has never been this bad before,” Kristján says. 

He says it varies by farm how much of the harvest farmers have managed to harvest. Some have managed to harvest half or less, while others have managed to bring a majority of their potatoes in. 

The situation has been much better in other parts of the country, and potato farmers in Hornafjörður, for example, have  done well—but the weather forecast is still not pleasant reading for Þykkvibær farmers. 

“Yeah, it’s terrible. One hopes it will improve a bit so that one can get some [potatoes] up. It’s really a complete disaster,” Kristján adds. 

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