Two years ago Mr Samuel James McCauley of Lessize, Rathfriland, on hearing about experiments going on in England to evaluate the growing of potatoes in beds, decided to set up a small trial plot himself on the home farm.
So impressed was he with the higher yield in the small plot that last year he planted six acres in beds. One field, about one acre in size, yielded 18½ tons of potatoes – 8½ tones of seed; six tons of ware and the remainder chats and refuse.
And this year his whole potato crop – more than 10 acres – was planted in beds using a three-row planter he designed specially for the job.
Planting procedure used last year was to prepare the seed bed in the normal way, broadcast Hi-Yield 3 fertiliser and then plant the field using a two-row ridger.
“Once having closed the drills I then panted a row of seed between every other drill,” said Mr McCauley, “and harrowed down the tops of the drills using a saddle harrow. This levelled off the drill tops and covered the middle row of seed.”
This meant that Mr McCauley had set three rows of potatoes in the width where two would normally grow. Although seed costs were 50 per cent higher than normal, the greater yield more than offset the extra cost.
Inter-row cultivations present no problem as spraying with Gramoxone is all that is needed to keep the weeds under
Nor is there any problem at digging time. A two-row elevator digger is used – lifting the three rows in the one pass.
Most important in growing potatoes in beds is a good blight control programme.
“With the greater density of foliage it is essential to guard against blight,” he said, “so I intend using Sanspor this year.”