Farmer Focus Arable: Smooth potato harvest for Seth Pascoe

The first autumn frosts arrived barely a week after we finished potato harvest.

Our potato sheds are mostly full and we shouldn’t have any problems meeting our contracted tonnage this year.

Quality is for the most part very good. One field had a very late infestation of aphids close to harvest and also a lot of greening. These spuds are in our short-term storage shed and will be shipped to McCains before Christmas.

The harvest ran very smoothly indeed; we had very few problems with any of the equipment. The biggest concern is how warm some tubers were when they entered storage.

McCains emailed their growers last week warning how they have observed potato soup running out of the cooling ducts in some growers’ bins. I have been keeping a close eye on our stores and thankfully we are problem free so far. Cooling fans are running at 100% and we are maintaining 12C and more than 90% humidity during the curing period.

Right now we are having a cold spell of weather, with temperatures hovering around zero during the day and dropping to -8C at night. Fieldwork continues and we are busily preparing spud fields for next season. Growing up in Cornwall, I never imagined I would be hill-forming in a white-out snow storm, thank goodness for Greenstar GPS.

On a recent trip north to visit one of our seed growers, I was shocked to see how much canola (oilseed rape) still hasn’t been combined. I read in the newspaper that some growers were getting reduced tonnages due to combining at 6% moisture. Perhaps that explains why I saw a few combines out and about in the snow-added moisture.

Thanks to me spending most of last week on the quad bike, soil sampling on the farm is completed. Fertiliser spreading will start once we get the results back.

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