Spring has finally arrived and it is great to be in the fields at Alsum Farms & Produce in Friesland, WI. We are later than normal, in fact this is the latest date we have started to plant in my 25 years of growing potatoes.
We started on Thursday, 4/25 and the conditions were very good. We had the normal first day problems and only got 15 acres planted. The next few days went much better and we are now averaging about 100 to 120 acres per day.
We started with our short season varieties and all of the reds, whites, and goldens were planted by the weekend. We are now planting the russet varieties and hope that we don’t get too much rain the next couple of days.
The Wisconsin River and the streams in the Wisconsin River Valley are all high and some fields are still wet. We did our well depth measurements 2 weeks ago and were surprised to find that the water depth in our wells is very high, averaging about 7’ below the ground level.
It is great to be out in the fields and I actually got to do some chisel plowing myself on Saturday afternoon. We are trying several new varieties again this year; mostly of the yellow flesh varieties and one new variety of fingerlings. We are also doing several field trials using reduced rates of phosphorus.
Based on smaller scale trials over the past 2 years, we feel that we can reduce our phosphorus inputs by as much as 30 to 40%. We are also setting up one field to try variable rate irrigation for the first time. This will be a trial to see if we can do a better job of managing our water inputs and hopefully improve both yields and quality at the same time.