Potatoes have been part of the business for over 50 years. Earlies were first grown at Barnlake over the Cleddau estuary under polythene where they were sent straight from the field to wholesale markets. The climate in Pembrokeshire suits the growing conditions for potatoes with warm temperatures and constant rainfall during the spring and summer.
Since then the potato enterprise has been modernised and changed with the introduction of more efficient machinery and cold storage. This has given a 52 week supply to customers. The business grows potatoes for both packing and processing markets growing a range of varieties including: Estima, Maris Piper, Markies and Miranda to name a few. All of the packing potatoes are marketed through Puffin Produce where they supply all of the major Welsh supermarkets.
The first earlies are planted in February and planting continues on through the spring with most of the maincrop going in the ground during March and April. The ground is ploughed up, ridged and then destoned to give a fine seedbed for optimum growing conditions.
The crop is then monitored throughout the summer months and receives irrigation and spraying if necessary. Harvesting first earlies begins by hand in May with the maincrop being lifted during September and October. The maincrop is lifted into 14t bulk trailers and taken back to Norton, where it is put over a grader and graded into boxes to be stored over the Winter.
There is capacity for a total of 5,000 tonnes of storage at Norton and Westfield combined with temperatures between 2-3 degrees for packing potatoes and 7-9 degrees for chipping potatoes. By keeping the temperature at a constant level it helps to maintain a good skin finish for packing varieties and keeps the fry colours and sugar levels that you want for chippers.
Swedes are grown as a winter crop. The seeds are drilled into a fine seedbed during July and are covered soon after with insect netting. This helps to prevents insect pest damage with strong control against cabbage root fly. The netting also enables the farm to reduce its use of insecticides on the crop.
The Swedes are harvested throughout the winter and are kept in the coldstore at a temperature of 2 degrees. They are cut, graded and prepared for wholesale and retail markets through the blas y tir brand. Swedes are available in individual 12.5kg nets, palletainers and in bulk. Any waste is either fed as cattle feed or strip grazed by store lambs.
The farm grows both Wheat and Barley which are sown in the Autumn and in the spring. Around half of the crop is used for animal feed and the other sold off to millers and processers.
The cereals tie into the rotation with potatoes well and help break up the cycle of pests and diseases in the soil. Wheat varieties grown include; Reflection and Leeds. Barley varieties include Cassia and Propino.