Andrew Keeler farms with
his parents at Church Farm,
Aylsham, Norfolk. Sugar
beet, potatoes, winter
wheat and premium malting
barley are grown on the
32ha (80-acre) farm
WE definitely do not want to see another spud for a few weeks. Like most potato stores in the area ours has suffered from tuber breakdown.
We were keeping an eye on the problem and in mid-November noticed that the stack had slumped in two places so we decided to sell the stock. Having decided on this course of action RBR Potatoes sent a bulker the same day and we set about the task.
To keep the sample as clean as possible, the entire store was forked into the grader by hand taking, on average, a day and a half to fill a bulker. As we approached the slumped sections quality fell and eventually we had to admit defeat and just shovel out the rotten spuds. These have been piled in the field and will be composted until after harvest next year. We have left about 10t of good potatoes at the back of the store and also have 16t in boxes that we will bag up in the New Year for our usual outlet.
The rots seem to be caused by the warm temperatures pre and post-harvest combined with wet conditions just before lifting and some blackleg. The sound potatoes at the back of the store were harvested before we were rained off by 25mm (1in) falling over two days.
Before the potato problems started, we finished harvesting the sugar beet and drilled the ground with wheat. Unfortunately, the trouble at the Wissington factory means beet has been diverted to our local factory here in Norfolk and our hauliers have had permits cancelled, putting us about two weeks behind with deliveries.
Spraying has also slipped behind schedule, because I have not been able to get the sprayer into the field. Hopefully, I will be able to get a second herbicide on barley, first weed control on wheat and insecticide on the oats soon.
Finally, I wish all a Happy Yuletide, New Year and better prospects for 2002. *
Andrew Keeler has been unable to get the sprayer in the field recently. But there has been plenty to do sorting out potatoes for early despatch.