Our Process

Planting

Planting potatoes commences in January and finishes in May, this is a key part of the process. It is crucial the conditions are right to ensure the crop gets the best start.

Most of the crop is mechanically planted, our earliest fields are hand planted. The small acreage of hand planted potatoes are frequently the earliest potatoes in the UK and are hand lifted to ensure they are of the best quality.

Growth Stages

The crops are regularly monitored from emergence to maturity. Our aim is to make the crops as strong and healthy as possible by providing the appropriate nutrients. This reduces not only the impact that diseases like blight have on our crops but also the chemical inputs required.

Growing crops is not a simple process as many factors are out of our control. The weather plays a key part, crops getting the right balance of rain and sunshine can make or break the yield.

Topping

When the tubers reach a size our customers desire the topper flails off the green canopy. Topping stops the potatoes growing and prepares the crop for harvest. The first potatoes of our season are lifted loose skin. Loose skin potatoes can be harvested straight after they have been topped. The majority of our potatoes are lifted set skin as they last and store. To allow the potatoes to be set skin they must stay in the ground for about three weeks after topping has occurred.

Harvesting

By May the early machine planted crops are ready to be harvested. This marks the start of our main harvest which usually finishes in October subject to weather conditions. Our harvester operators are highly skilled to ensure the crop is carefully lifted from the ground into the trailers maintaining a quality skin finish.

The trailers are hauled back to the yard where the packhouse team operate the grader. This splits the potatoes into different size categories and then fills ton boxes. The ton boxes either go straight onto a lorry for a customer, to the washing shed or to a coldstore.

Drilling

Our cereals are drilled in the autumn and spring. We are proud to be growing malting varieties, some of which are malted for St Austell Brewery. We grow Maris Otter which is a traditional winter barley malting variety and Laureate which is a modern spring barley malting variety.

Growth Stages

The crops are regularly monitored from the germination and emergence of the seed, tillering to the grain development and harvest. This ensures any diseases and trace element deficiencies are detected promptly.

Oil Seed Rape

During mid April the Oil Seed Rape flowers. This attracts many bees which pollinate the crop. The pods ripen after this stage leading up to harvest which occurs towards the end of July.

Combining

The combine comes out in the summer when the crops are golden and ripe. A moisture meter is used to test the grain prior to harvest to make sure it is dry enough.

Livestock

Cattle have always been a part of Colwyn Farm. However, when our main focus shifted to crops and growing more potatoes, cattle were phased out. Since then, cattle have been reintroduced.

Manure Spreading

Manure is a valuable source of nutrients that is utilised by our land. The cattle also consume defect potatoes minimising waste. Grass pasture is part of the rotation which nurtures the land to allow sustainable cropping to occur again in years to come.

Stewardship

Stewardship and wildlife are key parts of our farming operation to ensure the soil is kept in good condition for future generations. This has been implemented by reintroducing cattle and pasture to the farm, reduced tillage drilling, rotational hedge trimming, wildlife ponds and planting trees in unproductive areas. Growing cover crops in our rotation improves the soil structure, locks in nutrients and increases biodiversity.

Land Base

Our business rents a significant portion of land therefore, it is important as tenants that we look after it. We have long term and short term tenancy agreements and ensure all land is returned in a condition agreed by the landlord.

In longer term agreements we complete hedge trimming amongst other practices to ensure everything is kept tidy.

Trials

We complete potato trials based on plant nutrition with the focus being to minimise the chemical inputs used. Our climate is changing therefore, it is important that crops can flourish in these changing conditions whilst protecting the environment.

Trials

We are also part of the Dyson Farming Research Project Transformative Reduced Input in Potatoes (TRIP) which focuses on cost-effective regenerative farming methods. The trials consider nutrition, reduced tillage and the reduction of chemical inputs with the aim of using regenerative methods to get businesses to Net Zero. This is enabled by reducing GHG emissions, building soil organic matter and carbon sequestration.