Potato grower Tom Sigurd Dokkedal from Reddal, in the south of Norway, started pre-sprouting his seed potatoes in January. Adding additional lighting for seven to eight weeks and keeping temperatures around eight or nine degrees Celsius has resulted in a head-start of two weeks. “This year, the first potatoes were planted on 25 March, first covered in film, then in cloth. If temperatures remain stable, the cloth can be removed between 17 and 23 May. The new potatoes are sensitive to temperatures. When it’s too cold, we cover them in an additional piece of cloth, and when it’s too warm, we’re constantly airing the potatoes. That doesn’t do much good for your night’s rest.”
It would be good for the potatoes if some rain were to fall and for temperatures to remain stable around 18 to 20 degrees. That would mean Dokkedal could start harvesting the 270 tonnes of new potatoes he’s contractually obliged to supply at the start of June.
Dokkedal is a member of cooperative Gartnerhallen. He grows the Juno potato variety, a very early variety, but also Solist, Rutt and Arielle. The other 100 growers of early potatoes who are members of the cooperative grow the varieties Aksel, Berber and Hassel, among other ones. Combined, they’re good for about 10,000 tonnes of potatoes. The first of these will be on shelves in June.