CU LTIVATION AND TECHNOLOGY Investing in storage is still necessary, also after Brexit Potato growers in the UK are on the eve of a new era. Not only because they are on the verge of Brexit, but also on account of the necessary upgrades in cultivation and storage. Following a visit to a few young entrepreneurs in Britain, it became apparent that investment is needed, especially for storage. ‘It’s simply a must, if you want to continue to comply with the buyers’ increasing quality requirements’, they tell us bluntly. T here’s a burst of activity in the yard of the young potato growers Thomas and James Durdy in Tickhill, a village near Doncaster. On a particularly sunny day in March, the cousins are very busy getting a large load of French-fry potatoes of the Markies variety ready for delivery to potato processor McCain. It’s still a bit too wet to start work on the 450 hectares farm, which is why the gentlemen have all the time in the world to get the potatoes ready for transport. The potatoes are first carefully inspected and graded before they are loaded onto the trailers rented from fellow-potato growers. Renting machinery is common practice on British farms, even the forklift trucks with buckets come from rental companies, James Durdy tells us. While his cousin and the workmen were working hard at completing the preparations, he showed us the storehouses on the premises and introduced us to the ins and outs of the business activities. It was about 40 years ago that the two fathers of the cousins started to grow potatoes, says James. That was reasonably successful, the acreage increased every year. At a certain point, the need arose to store the potatoes for longer periods. What was available in those days was the granary. In Great Britain, these are usually barns with narrow, underground ventilation ducts, mostly 40x40 centimetres and wooden bars over them with space for air inlets. You can store potatoes in them as well, not for very long and not always optimally, but it was afFordable. Margins are small, costs have increased considerably Whatever is afFordable, is a solution that many British crop farmers usually choose to go with first. That choice is not only based on thriftiness or a lack of money, but also on a number of uncertainties. For farmers, for example, it’s often uncertain whether and under what conditions they are allowed and are able to grow potatoes, ‘conditions change all the time’, especially if you are a small partner for the bigger buyers, Durdy Also as a result of investing in a better storage system in order to meet the demands for better quality, Thomas and James Durdy have raised the acreage back from 20 hectares to 80 hectares. Potato World 2017 • number 4 33 Pagina 32

Pagina 34

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