Last weekend the last lots of this year's sweet potato harvest were brought in from the fields of Gaus-Lütje. For the company from Lower Saxony, the third marketing year of the regional root vegetable is now starting. Beside the main Erato Orange variety, for the first time the Beauregard and Covington varieties will be available, joint managing director Ernst Lütje affirms.
Right: Untreated, hand-picked sweet potatoes from Lower Saxony.
At the beginning of October, the sweet potatoes began to be harvested, which are now cultivated on a total of four hectares of land. According to Lütje, it has been a difficult cultivating year. "The unstable weather conditions have once again affected the sweet potato harvest. As a result, there will be less goods than last year, relatively speaking. However, since we have once again expanded our cultivation capacity, we will still have enough produce available. Still, it depends on demand whether we will be able to use the stocks to meet the new harvest."
Two new varieties in cultivation
This year, for the first time, the innovative vegetable farm has grown two new varieties, namely Beauregard and Covington. "Our main variety, Erato Orange, is very sensitive, so we were particularly looking for varieties that could be stored. The quality of the two new varieties is quite good, only with the Covington the calibers are a bit smaller. Now we have to wait and see how the varieties develop during storage."
The roots are marketed completely through the food retail trade, to which Gaus-Lütje has been supplying "normal" potatoes for several years.
Sweet potato chips & further potential
Last year, Gaus-Lütje launched a new line of business: In cooperation with a regional start-up, the sweet potatoes were processed into chips for the first time. The sweet potatoes are gently vacuum-fried with sunflower oil to keep the nutrient content high and the acrylamide content low. "This product line met with a tremendous response at the Green Week in Berlin at the beginning of the year. As a result, our business partner will expand its production capacity this year," says Lütje.
The regional sweet potato chips were also well received during the Corona pandemic. Lütje: "The same applies to the fresh product, which we were able to market until mid-May". He also sees further marketing potential for the regional root vegetables in the long term. "In my view, the sweet potato is an interesting additional product, both for the producer and for the trade.
Ernst Lütje was nominated as one of three CeresAward finalists in the category Farmer of 2020. The award of the Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag will be presented on October 28th in Berlin.