Irish Food Crops

VEGETABLES

The following vegetables are all grown here in Ireland and are suitable for the Irish climate:

Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chard, Chicory, Courgette, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mangetout, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsley, Parsnip, Peas, Peppers (Chilli and Bell), Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radish, Rocket, Runner Beans, Shallots, Spinach, Spring Onions, Squash, Sugar Beet, Swede, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, Turnips.

4,500 hectares of vegetables with a farm gate value of €73m are grown annually.  We supply well over half our requirements, but as our climate does not allow for all-year-round production the remainder is imported.

Sources:

http://www.organicgrowersireland.ie/
https://www.teagasc.ie/crops/horticulture/

FRUIT

The following fruits are all grown here in Ireland, according to Bord Bia.

Apples, Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Loganberries, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tayberries.

Ireland is a net importer of fruits, so there is scope and potential for growth in this sector.

Links:

https://www.teagasc.ie/crops/horticulture/fruit-production/

CEREALS/GRAINS

The main cereals grown in Ireland are Barley, Wheat and Oats.  They have a long history of cultivation in Ireland and are suited to the climate.  During the Famine years Ireland was known as the ‘granary of Britain’ because of the vast amounts of cereals that were grown here for export.  Maize, Millet, Rye and Spelt can also be grown in Ireland and are suited to the climate.

Cereals account for the main acreage under tillage at around 300,000 hectares, and the national tillage sector comprises approximately 11,000 growers.  More than two-thirds of the grain we produce goes for animal feed.  The remainder is used in Ireland’s brewing, distilling and flour milling industries.

The yield potential of Irish tillage land is also among the highest in the world.  However, Ireland is a net importer of cereal grains.  The sector has the potential to increase by up to 1% per annum, according to the sources listed below.

Sources:

https://www.teagasc.ie/crops/crops/cereal-crops/
‘2020Cereals’ at: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/
‘Cereals, Horticulture and Organics’ at: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/

LEGUMES/BEANS/PULSES – Protein crops

The main protein crops of relevance in Ireland are the pulse crops, namely peas and beans.  While Lupins are also a protein crop, their production here is marginal.  The growing of peas and beans for the fresh market is only carried out on a limited scale, usually in polythene tunnels.

Traditionally these crops have not been widely grown here due to variable yields and disease problems, created largely by adverse weather conditions and non-availability of varieties suited to our climate. The marginal nature of these crops has also meant that there has been a low investment into research on breeding and agronomics.

There is scope to produce beans for food export markets, particularly Egypt where 450,000 tonnes are imported annually.  The growing vegan foods sector in Ireland also provides a potential market.  These crops qualify for the Protein Aid Scheme which has seen the cultivation of Irish protein crops increase by 300% in 2015.

Sources:

Indigenous Supply of Plant-based Proteins for Ireland – https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/crops/crops/Indigenous-supply-of-plant-based-protein.pdf
https://www.teagasc.ie/crops/crops/research/research-programme/cropquest/field-beans/
‘Cereals, Horticulture and Organics’ – at  https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/

NUTS AND SEEDS

Chestnuts, Cobnuts, Hazelnuts and Walnuts are all grown in Ireland and are suitable for the Irish climate.  Hazelnuts in particular have a long history of cultivation here.  Other types of nuts can also be grown in the Irish climate, according to FruitandNut.ie.  See also: the Irish Nut Growers website.

Flax and hemp seeds can also be produced here, and both are crops with a long history of cultivation in Ireland.

Greenhouses:

A wide variety of vegetables can be grown in greenhouses, and on only a fraction of the land required for field cultivation of the same produce.  Greenhouses allow plant foods to be grown in regions where the climate would not have been suitable – for example, Antarctica, Iceland, Holland, Las Vegas, etc.  This excellent article from ‘Free from Harm’ discusses the potential of greenhouses in more detail.

Many salad vegetables and other plant foods are grown in Ireland in polytunnels and greenhouses.  These are referred to as ‘protected crops’.  Bord Glas and Bord Bia may have more information on these types of crops.

Exotic Crops:

These are crops that are not normally grown in Ireland as they are not believed to be suitable for the climate.  However, many of these (for example, pecans, almonds, grapes, peaches, apricots, olives and chillies) can be grown in polytunnels or greenhouses.  Some growers (particularly in the UK) have found that it is possible to grow some exotic plants (such as grapes, tea and coffee) outdoors.

The Department of Agriculture provides an aid scheme for producers in the Fruit and Vegetable Sector.