FOR Yorkshire potato grower Stuart Stark, the North of England Potato Day is an unmissable event.
The managing director of Fridlington Farms Limited, who is responsible for 520 acres of processing potatoes grown for Walkers Crisps and McCain Foods, believes the flexibility of the programme will make it easier for growers to attend at what will be a busy time of year.
The event held at Askham Bryan on September 13, will feature a series of in-the-field interactive workshops and trials in addition to topical seminar sessions, covering a range of key areas that will appeal to farmer and staff alike.
“Many growers will be drilling oilseed rape or winter cereals and some may have started lifting.
“But the workshop programme is repeated morning and afternoon, meaning growers can attend for two or three hours and then send their staff along afterwards.
“That way, everyone can keep up with all the latest messages without compromising work back at the farm,” Mr Stark said.
On the day, growers will be offered a valuable insight into retail and consumer trends and how they might affect the new marketing season.
Keynote speaker Dr David Hughes, Emeritus Professor at the University of Kent Business School and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, will present an overview of market trends and influences, outlining the challenges that lie ahead.
The in-the-field workshops will focus on costs savings and quality and Mr Stark believes a visit will be time very well spent.
“Potato growing is all about risk management these days – quality is all, and the last thing you want is rejections.
“This event offers all the key information you need at the right time of the year – operators can go back ready for harvest with these messages fresh in their minds,” he said.
Highlights will include the bruising workshop with Eric Anderson of Scottish Agronomy and Barry Baker of Grimme, Effective spraying with Syngenta’s Tom Robinson and the desiccation demo.
Potato Council’s Phil Bradshaw said other workshops likely to attract plenty of attention include soil scientist Selwyn Richardson’s soil pit, as well as three presentations on storage, with Potato Council’s Adrian Cunnington and Adrian Briddon.
Julian Franklin from the HSE will highlight the importance of inducting and training staff, particularly pertinent as harvest approaches.
The event is organised by Potato Council and sponsored by Masstock Smart Farming, SAC, Syngenta, NFU, Branston, Grimme and Cockerill.