There’s a hint of autumn in the air this morning as we head down to Naish Farms in Nottinghamshire to assess some of our maincrop potatoes which will be coming onsite for packing later this afternoon.
The variety that is being harvested today is a white potato called Orchestra. These potatoes are oval in shape, with a yellowy flesh. Their flavour and taste are superb, making them suitable for all sorts of uses.
After coming out of cold store and being warmed up, the Orchestra potato seeds were planted in early April this year.
It is a fine art in ensuring that the potatoes are grown to the correct size to meet our customer specific requirements. This process is controlled in part by planting the seed potatoes in accordance with “spacing guides” that are unique to each variety. These guides help ensure that the potatoes have enough space to bulk up (if a larger sized potato is required), or equally, that they have less space so that they do not grow too large (if the grower is growing baby potatoes).
As the crop grows, the potatoes are regularly checked to assess quality, yields, skin finish and size, as well as identify any pest issues which may have arisen.
Around three weeks ago the tops (leaves and stems) of the potato plants were burnt off. This process helps prevent blight infection in the tubers and also facilitates the passage of the harvester. It also stops the potatoes getting too big.
As the harvester travels along the field, a track with finger like blades goes into the soil and under the potatoes, lifting the potatoes up onto a web. The web allows any stones, soil and small potatoes to drop back onto the ground.
The potatoes then travel up a conveyor belt and onto a picking table, where any remaining stones etc are removed by hand. The potatoes carry on their journey up the conveyor belt, before being tipped into a one tonne box.
The quality of the potatoes we have harvested today look superb. The potatoes will be packed at our Packhouse in Doncaster and will be in the supermarkets by the weekend.
All the best – Ian