Farmer Focus Arable: Seth Pascoe’s spuds make the olympic dream

I’m proud to announce that North Paddock Farms will be represented at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver next month. Sadly, I haven’t discovered my hidden talent in bobsledding, or figure skating for that matter. However, a flurry of activity at our potato shed saw 750t of our Russet Burbanks leave, destined for the Olympics, via McCains.

I’m delighted with the quality of the tubers coming out of storage. Fry colours are achieving in excess of 98% grade ones and while specific gravities are high, we’re still getting paid gravity bonuses on some loads.

Hollow heart losses are much lower than anticipated and are staying below the 3% allowance.

We’ve reached the one area of the storage bin I was concerned about, where we harvested a wet field of potatoes in warm conditions. Thankfully, the amount of rotten potatoes is less than I expected.

News of UK winter turmoil reached Canada and provided much amusement to my friends here, especially the empty supermarket shelves and panic buying at petrol stations. I stifled a few giggles too. But I wasn’t laughing the following day when I buried my truck into a 4ft snowdrift and sheepishly had to walk back to the farm and get a tractor. My excuse of “I’m English, I’m not used to snow” doesn’t wash anymore.

Reports of -16C seem tame compared to weather here. Before Christmas we were outside working on a workshop extension in -35C with a wind-chill of -48C. My nail gun froze every 10 minutes and the government advised against breathing outside for prolonged periods to prevent lungs from freezing.

Hopefully some decent ground frosts will help to alleviate soil structural issues so maybe farmers can give the diesel-guzzling sub-soiler a rest for a season.

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