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International Society for Horticultural Science

Horticulture Research International

Ireland

General info
For questions and/or remarks regarding the content of these pages, feel free to contact the respective ISHS Council representatives who not only represent their country on ISHS Council but who are also invited to maintain the information included in the ISHS HRI Directory pages. For details on how to update your own details we refer to the FAQ pages on this site.

Climate
The island of Ireland is situated in the extreme north-west of Europe between 51.5º and 55.5º north latitude and between 5° and 11° west longitude. Influenced by the Gulf Stream and with the prevailing winds predominantly from the south-west, the climate is equable and temperatures are fairly uniform over the whole country. The coldest months are January and February with mean daily air temperatures of between 4-7 ºC, while July and August are the warmest (14-16 ºC). May and June are the sunniest months with 5-7 hours of sunshine daily and average daily solar radiation totals of 16-18 MJ m-² compared with 1.4-1.9 MJ m-² in December. In low-lying areas average annual rainfall is mostly between 800-1200 mm but ranges from less than 750 mm in some eastern areas to 1500 mm in parts of the west. In mountainous areas annual rainfall may exceed 2000 mm.

Geography
The island comprises a large central lowland of limestone with a relief of hills surrounded by a discontinuous border of coastal mountains which vary greatly in geological structure. The mountain ridges of the south are composed of old red sandstone separated by limestone river valleys. Granite predominates in the mountains of Galway, Mayo and Donegal in the west and north-west and in Counties Down and Wicklow on the east coast, while a basalt plateau covers much of the north-east of the country. The central plain, which is broken in places by low hills, is extensively covered with glacial deposits of clay and sand. It has considerable areas of bog and numerous lakes.

Horticulture
The two dominant products are mushrooms and potatoes each providing about one third of the value of horticultural production. The mushroom industry has shown the most growth of any horticultural sector in recent years This growth is based on the development of small scale production units, using insulated polythene tunnels, and large scale compost production and centralised marketing. The area of heated protected crops has declined and, although tomatoes remain the most important greenhouse crop, there has been a switch to less intensive cropping e.g. lettuce and strawberry. In field vegetable production, increased competition has forced some rationalisation which has resulted in fewer producers who market their product with greater co-ordination and efficiency. Fruit production, especially strawberries, for the fresh market is increasing but production for processing is declining due to increased competition. The hardy nursery stock industry has increased steadily in recent years and production of other amenity products such as flower bulbs and cut foliage is also expanding.

Commercial horticulture has traditionally been concentrated near population centres and particularly in the coastal sandy soils of north Dublin. Production has spread from there into the neighbouring counties of Meath, Kildare and Louth which together with Dublin constitute the most important area for production of potatoes and vegetables. Specialised out of season production is located in the mildest areas near the south coast. The glasshouse industry also originated in north Dublin and has developed mainly along the east and south coasts. The biggest concentration of mushroom production is in Monaghan and Cavan in the north-east but Roscommon, Mayo and Donegal in the north-west, Kildare in the east and Wexford in the south-east are also important. Kildare dominates the production of containerised nursery stock while Tipperary and Cork in the south are the most important counties for field tree production. The development of ornamental cut foliage production is mainly in Kerry in the mild south-west. Fruit production is predominantly located in the south-east.

Distribution of Horticulture
Commercial horticulture has traditionally been concentrated near population centres and particularly in the coastal sandy soils of north Dublin. Production has spread from there into the neighbouring counties of Meath, Kildare and Louth which together with Dublin constitute the most important area for production of potatoes and vegetables. Specialised out of season production is located in the mildest areas near the south coast. The glasshouse industry also originated in north Dublin and has developed mainly along the east and south coasts. The biggest concentration of mushroom production is in Monaghan and Cavan in the north-east but Roscommon, Mayo and Donegal in the north-west, Kildare in the east and Wexford in the south-east are also important. Kildare dominates the production of containerised nursery stock while Tipperary and Cork in the south are the most important counties for field tree production. The development of ornamental cut foliage production is mainly in Kerry in the mild south-west. Fruit production is predominantly located in the south-east.

Research Thrusts
The main emphasis has been applied research on the important horticultural commodities to help improve production efficiency. There is now increased emphasis on sustainability and reduction of any negative impact of horticulture on the environment.

Nature of Institutes
Horticultural research is mainly carried out at the centres of Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, particularly Kinsealy Research Centre and in the Department of Crop Science, Horticulture and Forestry in University College Dublin. There is also collaborative work between these centres and other universities, technology institutes and commercial enterprises.

Organisations / Institutes:
Teagasc, Agriculture and Food Development Authority
University College Dublin, Faculty of Agriculture
Bord na Mona Research Centre


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