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

IrrigationCalifornia Growers Sue State Over Drought
October 30, 2014
They claim the State Water Resources Control Board illegally denied water deliveries. Read More
CucurbitsNew Watermelon Planting Program For The Southeast U.S.
October 30, 2014
Sakata seeking to make regional impact by providing in-demand material through several local producers. Read More
Leafy Vegetables3 Can’t-Miss Cabbage Varieties For Florida Growers
October 30, 2014
Reed's Seeds highlights a trio of high-performance selections for Sunshine State producers. Read More
Insect ControlTake Control Of Thrips In Your Greenhouse
October 30, 2014
Why such a foreboding title? Thrips, one of the tiniest pests of greenhouse crops, are the carrier of one of Read More
BerriesManage Black Root Rot Of Strawberry
October 30, 2014
Controls include preplant nematode analysis, three-to-five year crop rotations, and more. Read More
FruitsSexual Evolution May Bear More Fruit In The Orchard
October 30, 2014
Scientists take a closer look at genes and find new plant breeding possibilities. Read More
Apples & PearsWashington Apples To Restart Shipments To China
October 29, 2014
Agreement reached between U.S. and Chinese governments to reinstate market access after two-year absence. Read More
EquipmentEnter To Win A Kubota At The Washington State Horticultural Association Annual Meeting
October 29, 2014
Attendees have a chance to take home a new utility vehicle courtesy of Wilbur-Ellis and Western Fruit Grower. Read More
CitrusUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
The funds will go toward helping growers implement conservation practices to improve honey bee health. Read More
FruitsHuge California Drought Meeting Planned
October 29, 2014
State, federal officials to meet as forecasts for the coming year look bleak. Read More

The Latest

IrrigationCalifornia Growers Sue State Over Drought
October 30, 2014
They claim the State Water Resources Control Board illegally denied water deliveries. Read More
CucurbitsNew Watermelon Planting Program For The Southeast U.S.
October 30, 2014
Sakata seeking to make regional impact by providing in-demand material through several local producers. Read More
Leafy Vegetables3 Can’t-Miss Cabbage Varieties For Florida Grower…
October 30, 2014
Reed's Seeds highlights a trio of high-performance selections for Sunshine State producers. Read More
Insect ControlTake Control Of Thrips In Your Greenhouse
October 30, 2014
Why such a foreboding title? Thrips, one of the tiniest pests of greenhouse crops, are the carrier of one of Read More
BerriesManage Black Root Rot Of Strawberry
October 30, 2014
Controls include preplant nematode analysis, three-to-five year crop rotations, and more. Read More
FruitsSexual Evolution May Bear More Fruit In The Orchard
October 30, 2014
Scientists take a closer look at genes and find new plant breeding possibilities. Read More
Apples & PearsWashington Apples To Restart Shipments To China
October 29, 2014
Agreement reached between U.S. and Chinese governments to reinstate market access after two-year absence. Read More
EquipmentEnter To Win A Kubota At The Washington State Horticult…
October 29, 2014
Attendees have a chance to take home a new utility vehicle courtesy of Wilbur-Ellis and Western Fruit Grower. Read More
CitrusUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
The funds will go toward helping growers implement conservation practices to improve honey bee health. Read More
FruitsHuge California Drought Meeting Planned
October 29, 2014
State, federal officials to meet as forecasts for the coming year look bleak. Read More
PotatoesNew CEO At Black Gold Farms, A Top 100 Grower
October 28, 2014
Eric Halverson takes the reins at the potato operation, while his father Gregg will remain president of the farm’s board of directors. Read More
FruitsValent U.S.A., MGK Enter Into Marketing Agreement
October 28, 2014
Valent U.S.A. to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products beginning in April 2015. Read More
VegetablesMultistate Land-Grant University Research Project Contr…
October 28, 2014
The project began in the 1970s as a Regional Initiative and has since expanded Internationally. Read More
FruitsMichigan State Offers Online Database Of Tree Fruit Dis…
October 28, 2014
Search engine helps growers identify several issues in the orchard. Read More
Stone FruitStudy Examines How To Keep Sweet Cherries Fresh
October 28, 2014
Canadian researcher says cooling of sweet cherries is key to delivering a quality product. Read More
Protected AgricultureLED Lighting Symposium To Be Held At University Of Ariz…
October 27, 2014
Event to focus on LED lighting technologies for specialty crop production. Read More
Cucurbits11 Cool Cucurbits For Florida’s Climate
October 27, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight high-performance selections for growers in the Sunshine State. Read More
CitrusModern Agriculture Is A True Centerpiece Of Thanksgivin…
October 27, 2014
FFAA's Mary Hartney says take time during this holiday season to give thanks where thanks is due. Read More