Potato shortage prompts earlier movements for Seth Pascoe

I’m often asked what unexpected things I miss about the UK. Upon reflection, roundabouts are near the top of the list as I seem to spend ages sitting at red traffic lights.

I heard on the radio that the average Canadian spends a week of their life waiting for traffic lights to change, but I must spend double that. Traffic lights have a bewildering ability to jump to red as I approach. It’s like they know I’m a former roundabout user.

In early January, I visited one of our potato seed growers to inspect the bulk of our Russet Burbank seed for the forthcoming season. Apart from some late-harvested, frost-damaged tubers at the front of the storage bin, the general size and quality of the seed is good.

We will run the seed over the sizer as it arrives on farm and size out the whole seed between 55-70g and plant this as entire seed or “single-drop” as it known here. Single-drop seed tends to have more vigour initially, although no apparent final yield advantage. The remainder of the seed will be run over the seed-cutting machine, which is routine practice here.

Disappointingly, our remaining 2800t of spuds stored on the farm will probably be trucked to the McCain’s plant from early February. The contract is structured with price increases scheduled for every fortnight of storage, so this untimely demand for our potatoes will have a significant impact on the bottom line.

I had been anticipating longer-term storage into May/June, but a shortage of potatoes has resulted in earlier movement. The Alberta potato shortfall means the plant will likely run out of local crop by late June. McCain’s is trucking potatoes in from America to keep the plant running and bridge the gap until lifting of the new season Canadian crop.





Arable Farmer Focus: Seth Pascoe

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