Potato planting rather than wedding for Seth Pascoe

At last we are farming again – drilling spring wheat two weeks earlier than usual.

The short, mild and windy winter has really dried the farm out, with a lot of seed sitting in very dry seed-beds. A bit of moisture to get the wheat off to a flying start and to further soften the potato ridges prior to planting and ridging would be much appreciated.

I should win a prize for dedicated employee of the month, or possibly worst Briton of the month. On the St George’s day weekend I will be here in Alberta planting potatoes rather begrudgingly, when I ought to be in Hertfordshire toasting the happy marriage of a former university housemate.

It made me ponder upon just how often farming interferes with life’s plans. However, the reality is, with a season length of 105-120 frost-free days, timeliness in planting can make a considerable difference in yields.

This season’s Russet Burbank seed looks to be decent quality, if somewhat on the large size. We ran two-thirds over the sizer to sort out the smaller tubers most suited for planting as whole seed. The remainder will all be run through over the seed cutter and dressed with mancozeb and fludioxonil.

We have spent a lot of time overhauling our potato planter this past winter. Two seasons of planting in poor field conditions had taken its toll on the drivetrain. Last season was particularly frustrating, with unacceptable amounts of downtime. I investigated replacing the machine, but planting technology hasn’t advanced considerably, so it didn’t seem appropriate.

Hopefully, this year we might be able to fill the potato planter to its capacity with seed, rather than the quarter loads we have been forced to make for the previous two seasons.

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