Archive Article: 2000/01/28

28 January 2000

Mike Cumming

Mike Cumming is manager at

Lour Farms, Ladenford,

Forfar, Angus, where spring

malting barley and seed

potatoes occupy about half

the 749ha (1850 acres).

Other crops include winter

wheat, barley and oats,

oilseed rape, swedes and


SINCE returning from the Christmas break the men have been busy grading seed potatoes thanks to a sudden export demand. That has created a much-needed burst of activity; during one week in January we despatched over 170t of Charlotte to Spain and 75t of Desiree to Algeria.

Of course these January orders have been of the "we want them ready yesterday" sort. Having kicked our heels for most of the backend we are now working twelve-hour days to catch up. The cost added to grading due to overtime is not inconsiderable and hard to swallow in a year such as this. However, I must admit it is nice to see a decent tonnage of seed leave the farm.

Loading the Spanish fridge vans is a challenge. Each load consists of 20 small pallets each with seven layers of three 50kg bags. The pallets wobble precariously as Scotsmen and Spaniards get under each others feet manoeuvring them into place in the wagon. Communication is by sign language, the only common words being of the four-letter variety. Watching this procedure brings back memories of Its A Knockout on TV. Our European competitors only loosely adhere to the rules while Britain plays fair. Sounds familiar does it not?

For the first time part of our seed potato crop will be grown off the Estate this year. Growing 60ha/yr (150 acres) our average rotation is just under seven years using all our suitable land. But to safeguard our seed potato enterprise I am convinced we need to move to a one in ten rotation. We cannot afford to take risks with PCN and growing part of the crop on rented land should achieve that objective. Of our arable land 92% is cleared for seed production and I want to keep it that way.

As for cereals, there is nothing much to say. In this part of the world they are left to their own devices during January. &#42

Lour Farms seed potatoes have been whizzing off to sunnier climes and not before time, says manager Mike Cumming.

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