Friday, May 29, 2009

Good progress with potatoes

Things have certainly become very busy on the farm since my last instalment. Here at North Paddock potato planting is well under way. The harsh winter has produced a good friable tilth and seedbeds are excellent.
We farm
potato hills in the autumn using a Dammer-Diker. This is a great bit of kit. Sub-soiling legs travel down the centre of each hill, followed by bulking bodies forming the hills. A novel wheel then digs small divots in between each hill. In winter these help trap snowfall and increase moisture accumulation; during the season they assist with drainage and prevent irrigation run-off.
In spring we simply travel over the hills once with a packer to firm them up and break any remaining clods, and then they are ready for
planting. A warm period of weather with temperatures as high as 26ÂșC has seen tubers going into lovely warm seed-beds.
The output and accuracy of our 6-row Spudnik planter is good; planting 60 acres a day (half a
Pivot circle) and achieving 92% efficiency.
Good progress was being made until very suddenly the clouds appeared, snowfall started and all fieldwork subsequently ground to a halt. I write this column after a week of temperatures hovering around zero with regular snowfall. At least it will provide good moisture for emerging
potatoes and good conditions for seeding grain and canola. I shall be patient and return to the hobby which occupies farmers all over the world - checking weather forecasts.

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