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AU: Good year for Tasmanian potatoes

The Tasmanian potato harvest is underway and benefiting from huge demand in the fast food sector, which has pushed up the value of the crop to around the $100 million mark this year.

A hot Summer has also meant that there is a large harvest this year of good quality potatoes. this represents a great improvement on last year when wet weather ruined some of the crop and made harvesting difficult.

"This year is a godsend after the 2011 season," Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association advocacy and policy manager Nick Steele said yesterday as mechanical harvesters and their human crews dug up paddocks across the north of the state.

Mr Steele pointed out that the value of the potato crop had increased by around $5 million in the last two years alone. 

"The industry is growing, but there is concern in the background about the rising cost of producing the spuds for which this state is famous," he said.

Water, energy, logistics and labour costs are all conspiring to push up the cost of production of potatoes, which represent 70% of all produce grown in Tasmania.

Long-time potato grower Max McKenna, from Gawler near Ulverstone, expected to harvest above his 3000-tonne quota.

"Last year was the worst one ever, but the heat this year has been fantastic," he said. "You can put water on your crop if it is dry, but you cannot artificially generate heat."

Source: www.themercury.com.au

Publication date: 4/12/2012


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