CU LTIVATION AND TECHNOLOGY Investing in storage is still necessary, also after Brexit explains. They currently have a two-year contract for the cultivation of the Markies (18 hectares) and the Royal (22 hectares) varieties, but that could change without any warning in a few years’ time, he adds. The cousins also grow 18 hectares of Innovator and 22 hectares of the Taurus crisps variety. ‘For Innovator, you can conclude a 3-year contract and sometimes also one for 4 years, but you need to be really good at growing them and stay very good as well, otherwise their cultivation soon becomes unprofitable.’ Durdy has worked on the crop farm for only a few years. As a young farmer, he knows many colleagues, even young ones, who quickly stop with multiannual contract potato growing. The margins are small, the costs have increased considerably in recent years. ‘You must have an irrigation system, most soils are very stony, leasing or buying land is expensive and all other cultivation costs, fertiliser, crop protection chemicals and fuel, for example, are also increasing. The fathers of Thomas and James expanded their potato crops mainly during the nineteen eighties and nineties. They could do this thanks to a combination of strict cost control and an increasing interest in the potato, especially for the processing of crisps and chips. The area increased to 60 hectares, but dropped again in the years before they took over the farm, mainly due to increasing quality requirements and the subsequent essential investments, Durdy Junior describes the situation. Investing step-by-step In the meantime, the young successors have raised the acreage back to 80 hectares; this is also a result of investing in a better storage system so that they could cope with demands for better quality. The storehouse was built over a year ago. It is a structure that houses two units of 900 tons of product each. The potatoes were put into storage here for the first time this season, one unit for Markies and one for Royal. Durdy points out that customers, such as potato processor McCain, are looking for growers who are able to store their products for long periods of time, preferably up to the beginning of July. This had already been anticipated when the new storehouse was The remaining Markies that are still stored in unit 2 in mid-March aren’t showing any sprouts yet. The reason that they need to leave is due to a few nests of rotten Phytophthora tubers in the middle of the heap, which couldn’t be kept dry any longer. The construction and layout of the storehouse at Durdy’s are still largely based on traditional British design. For example, the pressure room is right in the middle of the two units. Each unit has 40x40 cm cross ducts, with wooden bars on top and narrow aeration strips in between, like in many of those older existing storage sheds. Each duct can be individually closed with a wooden slide. ‘We wanted to gain the necessary experience first and make the investment step-by for the consequences of Brexit. There’s nobody who can shed any light on that yet’, 34 Potato World 2017 • number 4 Pagina 33

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