Nene Potatoes’ quality control lab at Long Sutton has resulted in a better quality harvest for some growers.
Chairman David Hoyles, who grows about 4,500 tonnes at his Lutton farm, has benefited from a daily report during harvest time.
He said: “They come out and take samples to see what the quality is like and to make sure we are not damaging the potatoes and report back on a daily basis.
“They will wash them, score them and grade them and tell us what the quality is . If we are being too aggressive and bruising the potatoes they can let us know so we can change what we are doing.”
The quality control starts well before harvest, when potatoes are checked for size and condition, which in turn helps farmers to ‘map’ their harvest and plan storage of crops of similar quality.
David is one of 27 growers in the Nene Potatoes group and the majority of their crops were checked in the lab at Long Sutton, according to managing director Paul Shepherd.
He said: “That gives us a good steer on what we are doing as a group, what we can do with it customer-wise and, more importantly, if one grower is getting a higher than average waste level for whatever reason it means we can get that information to them the following morning and they can do something about it.”
Paul expects the group to market about 120,000 tonnes of potatoes this year, better than last year’s 103,000 tonnes.
David says for him it’s been an “average potato year” but adds that there should be some “better quality potatoes” around.
Having information in advance about quantity and quality allows Nene Potatoes to target the premium market with an accurate idea of quantities to get the optimum returns for growers.