- 18th Jul 2018
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Cornish potato growers and agronomists are hard at work at this time of year, keeping a close eye on the growing crops and getting ready to harvest as soon as they’re ready.
What’s the best size for Cornish New potatoes?
Size is very important for these little beauties. We’re aiming for 25 – 45mm in diameter so they are monitored closely throughout the growing season to see how they are progressing. As their ‘due date’ draws near, samples are dug in the field and checked against sizing squares.
The agronomist will dig up a section of a row and assess all the potatoes in it. The data is input on an app for the ‘Harvest Manager’ system, which can then scale it up into a predicted yield for the field.
What weather conditions do you need to harvest Cornish New potatoes?
The ground and weather conditions also need to be right - ideally the soil should be slightly moist for harvest so that it’s soft and crumbly and the potatoes can be scooped up gently.
Why do New potatoes grow so well in Cornwall?
Cornish growers work in harmony with the picturesque Cornish landscape, benefiting from the milder maritime climate and rich soil, but they do also have to deal with its challenges – small fields, often on steep inclines, down narrow country lanes.
In Cornwall there are none of those flat, ten hectare expanses of potato field that you get in Lincolnshire. For Cornish potato growers ten hectares could be spread between 25 different fields - each with its own unique character and growing conditions. Each one is recorded on the Harvest Manager system to enable full crop traceability.
What is the harvesting process of Cornish New potatoes?
As soon as the potatoes are ready to be harvested, the growing green tops are removed and the harvesting team move in. The harvester scoops up the potatoes out of the rows and they are passed over a mesh that gently shakes them free of the soil. In sloping fields they harvest going uphill only, so that the potatoes are handled as gently as possible.
They then check the row after the harvester has been along it to see if any of the settings need to be adjusted - is it going deep enough to get every single tuber? Is the mesh on the harvester the right size, so they don’t lose any of the smaller ones?
The team on the back of the harvester gives the crop an initial once-over and will pick off any stray bits of plant or stones. The potatoes then go up a conveyor and into the trailer that drives alongside. They’ll harvest up to 14 tonnes into trailers like these then take them back to the farm for size grading before they go for packing.
These fluffy-skinned freshly harvested potatoes are cooled and transported to the packing factory in the South West as quickly as possible so that you can enjoy some of the freshest and most delicious New potatoes of the season.
How to win a 5* family holiday to Cornwall
To celebrate these best in season potatoes, Tesco’s Cornish New potato supplier Branston is running an on-pack competition where one lucky winner will win a 5* family holiday at Retallack Resort and Spa in Cornwall.
Set in the heart of Cornwall, Retallack Resort and Spa is a home away from home providing the perfect base to explore some of the UK’s finest beaches and charming harbour towns. Whether you’re bringing all of the family or just yourself, relax in the comfort and style of your luxury lodge, jump into the action with an array of watersports or take time out for you and feel at ease in ESYA Spa.
If you buy one of the stickered packs in Tesco stores this summer you can enter the special pack code at www.seasonalspuds.com/win for your chance to win. Keep hold of the pack code as your proof of purchase.
Closing date for entries to the competition will be 31 August. The draw will be made shortly after that and the winner will be able to take their holiday up to 30 September 2019.