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Growing Potatoes

By February 1, 2019Uncategorized

Willow Produce Potato CropPlanting Seed Potatoes

The decision to where and when to grow our potatoes is made in alignment with available appropriate soil and time of year for our climate. Potatoes are planted from seed potatoes. Seed potatoes can be a confusing term, as they are not a ‘seed’ as such. A seed potato is a potato that has begun the process of shooting.

To reproduce healthy potato plants you need to replant part or whole of the shooting seed. When planting seed we need to ensure the health of the crop from the start. It is important that healthy seed is used to prevent the spread of unwanted diseases in the crop. Sourcing and planting certified seed can minimise the possibility of the tubers becoming infected with a disease that has come from the seed. When growing for a customer we use certified seed from our list of approved suppliers.

Planting happens by way of a tractor towing a planter. The seeds are planted in rows that form the potato beds. Along the growing process, these beds are banked to ensure the banks remain stable to support & provide cover to the growing tubers.

Growing Potatoes

The growing time of potatoes is a lot shorter than that of onions. It is approximately 12-14 weeks from sowing to plant maturity.

During the growth of the crop, we send produce samples to an accredited specialised testing laboratory where Plant Tissue Analysis testing is conducted to determine the current nutrient status of the produce. This testing gives us accurate information about the nutrient status of the produce at a given time and gives us the ability to make more informed decisions towards guiding the plant to optimal health.

Harvesting Potatoes

Once harvest comes along the individual plants show signs of being mature when the tops begin to wither. We come through with the harvester, which digs deep under the potatoes that are in the soil. The potatoes are lifted out the ground and over the conveyer belt, where the excess soil falls back to the ground and the potatoes are gently guided into a produce bin. Another tractor is towing the trailer that carries the produce bins. The driver of the trailer needs to drive at the same speed to that of the driver of harvest machine. Once the produce bins are filled, the tractor operator takes them back to the shed where they are immediately loaded on a truck and transported to the washing/packaging shed. As potatoes have a relatively short life span, this is a very quick process from paddock to packaging.

We currently produce over 1000 tonne of potatoes for Australian markets annually.

Quality Management

We trace our produce from when it is a seed to where it is to be transported. This forms part of our quality management. We are quality assured with Freshcare. To achieve our certification we are audited by an independent body annually, where we need to meet the requirements of the Freshcare Codes.

Freshcare is an industry owned and not-for-profit on-farm assurance program. It was established and is maintained to service the Australian fresh produce industry. Freshcare is currently the largest Australian on–farm assurance program for fresh produce that provides on-farm food safety & quality and environmental certification services to over 5000 members nationally. The Freshcare Codes outline the practices required on farm to provide an assurance that the fresh produce is safe to eat, has been prepared to customer specifications and legislative requirements; and has been grown with care for the environment.

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