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
Irrigation
March 26, 2017
Tips to Maximize Water Efficiency
Editor’s note: Spencer Cooper joined the Almond Board of California last fall as Senior Manager, Irrigation and Water Efficiency. Western Read More
SWD On Raspberry
Berries
March 26, 2017
Outsmarting SWD with Social Media
Entomologist in Kentucky uses social media for pest updates, trap catches. Read More
honeybees
Citrus
March 25, 2017
New Videos Offer Tips on Planting Pollinator Habitats
A new video series on planting flowering habitats is designed to help growers support crop pollinators. Read More
Freeze protected blueberry bushes in Florida
Berries
March 25, 2017
Florida Blueberry Crop Escapes Slap from Late-Season Cold Snap
Freeze protection tactics prove fruitful as local producers look to gain from Georgia’s loss. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 25, 2017
Two MAIA Releases Available for Growers, Hobbyists
‘Crunch-A-Bunch’ is an early ‘GoldRush’ and ‘Bakers Delight’ is a secret ingredient for baking. Read More
Nuts
March 24, 2017
Foreboding Fungus Vexes Almond Growers
In parts of California, almond growers have recently become concerned about Ganoderma root and butt rot. To put this concern Read More
Citrus
March 24, 2017
Marrone Bio Introduces Biostimulant to Reduce Sun Stress
Haven Anti-transpirant helps to reduce transpiration of fruit, nut, and vegetable crops. Read More
Campus of Massey University in New Zealand
Citrus
March 23, 2017
Count Down the World’s Top 30 Agriculture Colleges
Familiar names, and several new faces among annual ranking’s elite. Read More
Pest Control
March 22, 2017
Fear of GMOs is Impacting Quality Food Research [Opinion]
Perhaps the greatest threat to our industry is a public that values instinctual opinion over careful research and the findings of experts who have dedicated years to their field of study. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenges
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
Production
March 22, 2017
Weighing the Good and Bad of Six Soilless Media Options
Trying to decide which growing media is the right one for your greenhouse vegetable production? Take a look at these six options. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Industry Groups, Ag Leaders React to Proposed USDA, EPA Budget Cuts
New plan would slash USDA spending by 21%. Read More
Freeze protected peach trees in Florida
Cold Protection
March 21, 2017
Freezing Temperatures Hit South Carolina Crops Hard
Peaches, blueberries, and strawberries among crops damaged. Read More
fork digging into a plate full of salad
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Since When Did Eating Get So Complicated? [Opinion]
The bottom line to all this is the way we eat is undergoing massive disruption. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 21, 2017
Two More Lost Apple Varieties Found In Steptoe Butte
Amateur apple detective strikes again with two more finds in abandoned orchards near state park. Read More
The Latest
Irrigation
March 26, 2017
Tips to Maximize Water Efficiency
Editor’s note: Spencer Cooper joined the Almond Board of California last fall as Senior Manager, Irrigation and Water Efficiency. Western Read More
Berries
March 26, 2017
Outsmarting SWD with Social Media
Entomologist in Kentucky uses social media for pest updates, trap catches. Read More
Citrus
March 25, 2017
New Videos Offer Tips on Planting Pollin…
A new video series on planting flowering habitats is designed to help growers support crop pollinators. Read More
Berries
March 25, 2017
Florida Blueberry Crop Escapes Slap from…
Freeze protection tactics prove fruitful as local producers look to gain from Georgia’s loss. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 25, 2017
Two MAIA Releases Available for Growers,…
‘Crunch-A-Bunch’ is an early ‘GoldRush’ and ‘Bakers Delight’ is a secret ingredient for baking. Read More
Nuts
March 24, 2017
Foreboding Fungus Vexes Almond Growers
In parts of California, almond growers have recently become concerned about Ganoderma root and butt rot. To put this concern Read More
Citrus
March 24, 2017
Marrone Bio Introduces Biostimulant to R…
Haven Anti-transpirant helps to reduce transpiration of fruit, nut, and vegetable crops. Read More
Citrus
March 23, 2017
Count Down the World’s Top 30 Agricultur…
Familiar names, and several new faces among annual ranking’s elite. Read More
Pest Control
March 22, 2017
Fear of GMOs is Impacting Quality Food R…
Perhaps the greatest threat to our industry is a public that values instinctual opinion over careful research and the findings of experts who have dedicated years to their field of study. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenge…
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
Production
March 22, 2017
Weighing the Good and Bad of Six Soilles…
Trying to decide which growing media is the right one for your greenhouse vegetable production? Take a look at these six options. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Industry Groups, Ag Leaders React to Pro…
New plan would slash USDA spending by 21%. Read More
Cold Protection
March 21, 2017
Freezing Temperatures Hit South Carolina…
Peaches, blueberries, and strawberries among crops damaged. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Since When Did Eating Get So Complicated…
The bottom line to all this is the way we eat is undergoing massive disruption. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 21, 2017
Two More Lost Apple Varieties Found In S…
Amateur apple detective strikes again with two more finds in abandoned orchards near state park. Read More
GenNext Growers
March 20, 2017
Packaging: A Powerful Way for Farmers to…
Growers have few opportunities to communicate with end users. Paying mind to what’s on the outside can help sell a lot of what’s inside. Read More
Crop Protection
March 20, 2017
Biologicals Gaining Acceptance Among Mor…
Driven by new innovation and consumer demand, growers look to the biocontrol sector for new solutions. Read More
Disease Control
March 17, 2017
Prevent Alternaria from Putting Your Sna…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More