Monday, 27 June 2016

Hi, I'm Anne, your new contact for SPot Farm West

Hello, I'd like to introduce myself. I'm the new Knowledge Exchange Manager in AHDB Potatoes and I'll be taking care of the SPot Farm West project going forwards. 

I'll be your primary contact point for developments at the Staffordshire site, but still working with the wider team as I settle in. 

In fact, some of you may be wondering what Hannah Goodwin is up to following all her efforts in the first season of the SPot Farm programme. I'm glad to be able to report that Hannah continues to lend her expertise to AHDB and the levy payers in a new role as Senior Analyst in the Strategic Insight team, part of the market intelligence department.

I've been working for AHDB Horticulture's technical team for 2½ years now, but have had chance to collaborate with the potatoes sector, particularly on recent water abstraction requirements, working closely with Jenny Bashford on a joint project which included surveying the water requirements of growers

But even before that, potatoes have been in my background as I previously grew organic potatoes commercially in Northern Ireland.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

'FAB' preparations

Preparations for next month’s open days are ramping up at quite a pace and we’re looking forward to those days where we’ll all get chance to meet and discuss the industry’s opportunities and challenges.

...on the subject of challenges, and things picking up in pace, if you’re signed up to our BlightWatch service (, no doubt you’ll have been receiving frequent alerts of Full Smith Periods of late.

With very wet and warm weather being a prevalent feature across the UK the past couple of weeks, we’re starting to see the optimal conditions for Late Blight outbreaks.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Hot topics on a sunny day at Elveden

Hi there! Good of you to pop in. The first farm walk was GREAT. We were oversubscribed with people wanting to visit, a nice problem to have. Andrew’s Tweet (@ElvedenFarmer) ‘Hot topics in the hot weather’ was a perfect description. There was a real buzz of conversation throughout the day, which was exactly what we wanted to achieve; although I have to confess by the end of the morning and afternoon sessions it wasn’t only the potatoes that had reached their wilting point!

The initial feedback has been really positive and included: ‘extremely useful, excellent and fascinating’. Levy payers seem delighted to have their own SPot Farm in the East. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

To Chit or not to Chit?

I’ve noticed a resurgence of interest in chitting over recent years. And for good reason. 
It’s one of those things that growers used to do 20, 30, 40 years ago… and they just knew it was right in many circumstances. But modern production techniques and mechanical handling just don’t lend themselves to chitting.

But in a season just like this one, with a delayed planting and reports of slow emergence in a less than an ideal spring there are huge benefits to be had from chitting some of your seed. We have a demonstration of chitting at SPot Farm West looking at its place in a processing environment.
The pictures below show what the crop looks like just now (1 June).

How will this early emergence effect the final harvest date, grading and quality? 

Introducing SPot Farm Scotland...

“We aim to be forward thinking and to produce the best commercial potato crops that we possibly can on our own and rented ground across Perthshire and the Borders.”
That’s the confident message that Kerr Howatson, Potato Manager for Bruce Farms (hosts of our SPot Farm in Scotland) put out there when we announced this new project a little earlier in the year.

You probably already know by now that the Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm, is a practical, farmer-driven project which aims to give growers the opportunity to examine and discuss new techniques and research.

This SPot Farm Scotland project aims to be of benefit to all of Scotland’s potato growers and will run for 3 growing seasons starting formally in 2017 running through to the end of 2019.