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In your field: James Lacey - 'Potato sales are slowly starting to creep up'

March was a very productive month all round on the farm.

We hit the halfway mark of potato planting, with about 140 hectares in the ground, and survived Mother’s Day with the potted flowers, when ironically, it is the only time of year I am guaranteed to fall out with my mother.

 

The remaining pots and cut hyacinths will creep out of the door over Easter, meaning we will nearly be ready to start planting our next indoor crop.

 

The outdoor flower season has also kicked off with great momentum and the first drillings of sunflowers, gladioli and asters are already in the ground.

 

We unfortunately have to fleece all of our sunflowers at this time of year, as they are very annoyingly a delicacy to corvids and the slow germination leaves them vulnerable. Doing this is not only labour-intensive, but also costly.

 

Within the next week, the first of our sugar beet will be drilled. It would probably be more cost-effective to leave the seed in the box, but I have two years left on my contract and I will honour it. Is it the end for the crop?


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My potato sales have remained steady, but the demand does seem to be creeping up slowly.

 

I am hopeful that once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted there will be a much needed boost for the potato trade, as the British public gets to venture out once again and visit, according to the internet, the nation’s favourite takeaway, the humble fish and chip shop.

 

Buying locally and buying British produce will be so important to help turnaround many businesses which have struggled over the past 12 months, but I am extremely optimistic about the future.

 

Last month, I touched on the ADHB Potatoes vote taking place. I think many potato growers feel they have been paying for a service which has not provided any return for some time now.

 

Potato profit margins have been tight to non-existence for many during this time. Personally, the final straw for me was the CIPC debacle. We do not have any good alternatives for CIPC, so what was ADHB doing and why did I pay a levy to get no real solid answers?

 

On a brighter note, Covid-19 restrictions have been slightly eased and I will be attending my first barbecue with Hannah and two friends this week; my first bit of socialising since Christmas.

 

Hopefully, many readers will be enjoying small gatherings over Easter, although I imagine there will be many livestock farmers running on little sleep hoping to fit in a good roast dinner on Easter Sunday.

 

Fingers crossed normal life will be with us soon, just in time for us to all be too busy with harvest to enjoy it.

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