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Crookwell potato growers reap the reward of recent rains with bumper potato harvest

By Tim Fookes, Friday May 22, 2020 - 08:22 EST
Audience submitted image
Autumn rain has turned the season around for seed potato growers at Crookwell. - Audience submitted

From a season that was looking dire, potato growers around Crookwell in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands have celebrated a remarkable turnaround in fortune.

After three years of drought and below-average harvests, fourth-generation seed potato grower, Garry Kadwell, said the change in seasonal conditions had been remarkable.

"At the beginning of the year we had heat, bushfires and a lack of water and the potatoes struggled to get out of the ground," he said.

"I thought we were heading for a complete disaster, but then several inches of rain came in autumn and we have now got a really good crop.

"It's been the biggest surprise of my life!"

Mr Kadwell said he was picking between 60 and 80 tonnes of potatoes a day.

"We went from everything being so dry, to our machinery now getting bogged."

The majority of potatoes from Mr Kadwell's farm would be sent to South Australia for the washed potato market.

"We've been focussing on Carisma and Maranca potatoes but we are trialling several new varieties too," he said.

"This rain has really given farmers the chance to plan ahead and has given a real confidence boost."

Virtual potato festival

Crookwell has been a well-known potato-growing area in NSW since the early 1800s.

An annual potato festival was established in 2010, which usually attracted several thousand visitors to the region each May.

However, social distancing due to COVID-19 meant the 2020 Crookwell Potato Festival moved online.

"We wanted to make sure there was a way we could still mark the event, so it became virtual," said festival organiser, Joyce Edwards.

"We've had locals filmed cooking recipes using potatoes and tours of local potato farms — it's been a lot of fun.

"Potatoes have been a big industry to the area and still, after more than 200 years, they are still an integral part of our community."


© ABC 2020

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