What To Know Before Getting Into Potato Production

Potatoes

So you think you may want to add potatoes to the list of crops you grow? Robert E. Leiby, county Extension director for Penn State Extension in Lehigh County, gave growers a few points to ponder about potato production at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Hershey, PA, last month.

Before getting started, Leiby explained, growers need to find the answers to a few questions to determine if they are up to the task. These questions include:

Q1 Is my field suited for potatoes?

Selecting fields appropriate for potato production is important to turning a profitable crop, he said. “Good, deep, fertile, rich soil is key.” He added that potato rotations should be no less than three years.
“If a grower has sufficient land to go beyond three years, that’s to their benefit,” Leiby explained. “The biggest thing a grower should beware of when picking land for potato farming is poor draining.”

Q2 What seeds should I buy?

Knowing how to select a variety, where to get information, and the certification, sanitation, and handling practices are all necessary to getting started, he said.

“Obtaining high-quality certified seed will be a challenge in 2012, due to a weak crop,” Leiby warned. Knowing where to go to purchase seed, however, will be a plus to growers new to the industry.  

“I like to compare potato crops to cantaloupes, peas, radishes, or lettuce,” he said. “With those, we talk about planting a few pounds of seed per acre. With potatoes, though, it’s a few tons per acre.”

Growers need to use certified potato seeds from reputable growers. “The state has certified potato seed farms, and they usually publish directories that can be found online. Referring to those and developing a relationship with a seed grower will really help,” he added.
 
Q3 What machinery and storage will I need to purchase?

Machinery and storage equipment is a huge investment and should be considered carefully. “One of the big things is the scale of the operation,” Leiby explained, “There are a number of single- and double-row lifters on the market that suit the needs of a 2-, 5-, 7-, or even 8-acre grower, but if you’re going to be bigger, then you need to look at getting a harvester and possible wind rowers.”

Q4 How should I set up a production budget?

Budgeting, an integral part of any business, should be one of the first things any grower does right off the bat. “We have a sample budget that we use, and many of the state Extension offices will have them for their particular state,” he said. “The important thing is to look at those budgets and figure out the number that is right for your specific operation depending on the size and the capital investment.”  

Q5 Who should I go to for advice?

Leiby explained that there are numerous resources available to new growers to help them get their operations off the ground. He suggested some starting points such as the land grant university system or the Potato Association of America. 

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Photo of New Guinea flatworm found near Coral Gables, FL
CitrusSouth Florida’s Newest Pest Has Significant Ooze Factor
July 2, 2015
The infamous New Guinea flatworm, one of the ‘world's worst invasive alien species,’ might have found a new home. Read More
Farm ManagementPMA Advocates For Improvements To Proposed FSMA Mandatory Food Recall Guidance
July 2, 2015
This week the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) submitted comments on behalf of its membership to FDA regarding the proposed Mandatory Read More
VegetablesUnited Fresh Leadership Program’s Class 20 Donates 28 Salad Bars To Schools
July 2, 2015
Over the past year, the twelve members of United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program’s Class 20 raised funds to support Read More
CitrusFlorida’s Young Farmers Working To Bridge Generation Gap
July 2, 2015
Leadership conference to give GenNext Growers tools to become better agvocates. Read More
ProductionUse Broccoli Rotations To Reduce Disease And Minimize Leaching
July 1, 2015
Crop rotations are a key production practice utilized by every grower. You recognize the importance of rotations to break insect Read More
CitrusIndustry Stakeholders Rip Report Linking Citrus Consumption With Skin Cancer
July 1, 2015
Associations react swiftly; call out flaws in study released by the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read More
Cucurbits11 Pumpkin And Squash Varieties
July 1, 2015
This month’s variety specs feature focuses on pumpkin and squash varieties. Features highlighted include great disease resistance packages, excellent yield potential, Read More
VegetablesInterview With Hazera Global Onion Product Manager
July 1, 2015
Onion is one of the most produced vegetable crops in the world. A lot of expertise is required to develop Read More
EquipmentHarvest Trends: More Mechanization Needed For Vegetable Growers
July 1, 2015
As the labor supply declines, industry experts and growers say investing in the latest harvesting technology will be necessary. Read More
healthy piece of citrus
Citrus Achievement AwardNeglected Research, Future Growers Top Of Mind For 2015 Citrus Achievement Award Winner
July 1, 2015
Orie Lee advises young up-and-comers to supplement production knowledge with business acumen; calls for more focus on blight. Read More
The Latest
Photo of New Guinea flatworm found near Coral Gables, FL
CitrusSouth Florida’s Newest Pest Has Significant Ooze Factor
July 2, 2015
The infamous New Guinea flatworm, one of the ‘world's worst invasive alien species,’ might have found a new home. Read More
Farm ManagementPMA Advocates For Improvements To Proposed FSMA Mandato…
July 2, 2015
This week the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) submitted comments on behalf of its membership to FDA regarding the proposed Mandatory Read More
VegetablesUnited Fresh Leadership Program’s Class 20 Donates 28 S…
July 2, 2015
Over the past year, the twelve members of United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program’s Class 20 raised funds to support Read More
CitrusFlorida’s Young Farmers Working To Bridge Generation Ga…
July 2, 2015
Leadership conference to give GenNext Growers tools to become better agvocates. Read More
ProductionUse Broccoli Rotations To Reduce Disease And Minimize L…
July 1, 2015
Crop rotations are a key production practice utilized by every grower. You recognize the importance of rotations to break insect Read More
CitrusIndustry Stakeholders Rip Report Linking Citrus Consump…
July 1, 2015
Associations react swiftly; call out flaws in study released by the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read More
Cucurbits11 Pumpkin And Squash Varieties
July 1, 2015
This month’s variety specs feature focuses on pumpkin and squash varieties. Features highlighted include great disease resistance packages, excellent yield potential, Read More
VegetablesInterview With Hazera Global Onion Product Manager
July 1, 2015
Onion is one of the most produced vegetable crops in the world. A lot of expertise is required to develop Read More
EquipmentHarvest Trends: More Mechanization Needed For Vegetable…
July 1, 2015
As the labor supply declines, industry experts and growers say investing in the latest harvesting technology will be necessary. Read More
healthy piece of citrus
Citrus Achievement AwardNeglected Research, Future Growers Top Of Mind For 2015…
July 1, 2015
Orie Lee advises young up-and-comers to supplement production knowledge with business acumen; calls for more focus on blight. Read More
Business PlanningTake Climate Change — Please [Opinion]
June 30, 2015
It’s a difficult issue because people tend to think of it in terms of something tangible — like the weather. Read More
NutsWalnut Nitrogen Budgeting Critical
June 30, 2015
Applying the right amount of N is not easy because walnuts take a lot, but these days you don’t want to apply too much. Read More
FruitsHighlights From The Ohio Produce Growers And Marketers …
June 30, 2015
American Vegetable Grower magazine made its way to the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association (OPGMA) Summer Tour & Field Read More
Insect ControlAlabama Insect Scouting Report Indicates Armyworm Numbe…
June 30, 2015
Report discusses caterpillars, sucking pests, and cowpea curculio activity and management. Read More
Nutrient ManagementResearchers Say Cover Crops May Help Save Soil In Flood…
June 30, 2015
According to experts, planting cover crops may help preserve healthy soil in fields in fields left empty this year thanks to flooding. Read More
TomatoesGSPP Accreditation Enables Sakata Seed America To Offer…
June 30, 2015
The seed company is now authorized to store, treat, process, package, and distribute GSPP-certified tomato seed for the NAFTA market. Read More
MarketingThe Power Of Local Food [Opinion]
June 30, 2015
Summer is now in full swing and we have entered what I like to call “the season of farmers markets.” Read More
PotatoesInnovative Technology Is Necessary For Potato Growers T…
June 30, 2015
Historically, there has often been opposition or fear of new agricultural technologies and today is no different, but it is critical that growers have access to technologies that meet consumer demand while using less land and conserving soil, water, and energy. Read More