This section is from the book "The Potato: A Compilation of Information from Every Available Source", by Eugene H. Grubb, W. S. Guilford. Also available from Amazon: The Potato: A Compilation Of Information From Every Available Source.
A. Burns and Sons, Dunfermline, Scotland, farm 1,000 acres and crop 300 to 500 acres in potatoes annually.
They grow one variety of early potatoes exclusively, the British Queen. This outsells all other early varieties on account of its extra fine table qualities, good shape and medium size. It is a strong grower and makes large yields. The quality is corroborated by the extra gain of steers fed on the waste of British Queens as compared with softer varieties with less starch, like Epicure and Up-to-Date. Mr. Burns says cattle relish them more, consume more, and they give 25 per cent. more gain on the British Queen.
Mr. Burns grows and saves his own seed. It is screened out of the small potatoes when they are picked up by the harvesters. All the refuse is run over a one and three eighths inch screen. The seed potatoes are boxed and stored in seed storage cellars if he has time; otherwise they are stacked up outside. They wilt and green in the sun and air and get quite soft. He says this is not advantageous for seed vitality. He uses smaller seed than most growers in Great Britain advise.
He sows rye grass (two bushels per acre) and rape seed (twelve pounds per acre) as soon as the potatoes are lifted. He grazes this off with sheep from August 15th to December 15th. He feeds cake to the stock he is pasturing. Cake is his great reliance for keeping up soil fertility. He applies twenty tons of well-rotted manure in December and plows under as deep as possible. He has grown potatoes successively this way for fifteen years. Potatoes are sometimes followed with wheat or Swedes. The roots get the same treatment as the potatoes. He grows thirty-five to sixty-five bushels of wheat per acre and from thirty-five to forty-six tons of Swedes. There is nothing sold off the farm but finished cattle and sheep, potatoes and wheat. All roots, straw, rye grass, hay, oats, and small potatoes are fed in covered sheds for making muck. No fertilizer is used the year he grows wheat, but 1,200 pounds of ground lime is plowed in. Lime costs $3.50 a ton.
He uses 2,300 pounds of seed potatoes per acre, planted whole. They are boxed and sprouted. All potatoes are harvested before they ripen and are sent to market from July 15th to August 15th. If any of the crop is matured it makes 600 bushels per acre. The average when marketed unripe in July and August is 375 bushels.
Mr. Burns uses 1,200 pounds of commercial fertilizer. This is 10 per cent. ammonia, 12 per cent. potash, 25 per cent. phosphates. The secret of his success in fertilizing is in getting the proper proportion of barnyard muck and artificial fertilizer.
Intensive British agriculture illustrated. A crop of Sutton's May Queen potatoes lying exactly as raised. Illustration used by courtesy of Sutton & Sons, Reading, England.
The crop is cultivated twice and hoed once.
The head lands in the fields are not planted, so it leaves room at the ends of rows without trampling the crop.
The seed is stored in stone buildings. There are windows in the roof and sides that can be fully opened and there are large doors in the ends.
The potatoes begin to throw out sprouts about December. He keeps these from developing too rapidly by opening doors and ventilators. He says the sprouts will not grow if there is a circulation of air at 45 degrees to 50 degrees F. When the sprouts are one and one half inches long he checks their growth, and greens and toughens them by circulation of air and light. One of the great problems of early potato growing is to hold back the development of the sprouts until the time of the planting. Another great secret imparted by Mr. Burns is that if seed potatoes are boxed at once and put into storage before withering or greening, and if only partially matured when dug, only the terminal bud or eye develops. One sprout gives the best crop, and it is ten days or more earlier. There is no disease and no spraying. He had the best 300 acres of wheat I have seen, except an irrigated crop. It was as heavy as would grow without lodging. For this crop he used from 180 to 200 pounds of seed per acre, and it will make a sixty-four-bushel yield.
He has Irish help for harvesting - 100 of them now( at time of visit). It costs $11 an acre to dig and pick up. They commence work at 4 a. m. and work ten hours.
He feeds 400 bullocks a year in stone-wall stables, under cover, bedded every day with straw and peat moss to hold the liquid manure. They are fed from 100 to 160 pounds of small waste potatoes and ten pounds of cottonseed cake per day with rye grass, hay or straw. He has 100 bullocks on feed. They weigh about 1,040 pounds and cost $100 each. He says that in forty days they will weigh 1,200 pounds and bring $125. He never grazes steers, but always feeds oil cake, potatoes, Swedes and roughage in close pens. He values potatoes at $7.50 a ton for feeding. The manure of cattle fed a ration rich in linseed and cottonseed oil-cake is the reliance and success of his potato growing. The cake and bullock manure with the liquid manure he conserves with the dry bedding of various kinds is worth $3 a ton, with city horse manure at $1.50 a ton. He gets one and one half tons of manure to a bullock.
Without muck combined with artificial fertilizer, potato growing would be an absolute failure. The advantage of growing early potatoes is that he can grow a crop of rye grass or vetch, before freezing weather, to plow under for green manure or graze off with sheep and cake.
Mr. J. Butterrs, Dunfermline, raises only main-crop potatoes (late ) at a cost of $50. He grows and selects his own seed, pits it and plants it whole, using from 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of seed to the acre.
He has a special trade direct to consumers, and cannot supply the demand for Langworthy at $20 a ton (37.3 bushels) because of the table excellence of this splendid potato.
He gets $150 an acre for his crop, making a profit of $100.
He plants 27 by 9 inches. I did not see a weed on the farm. He has grown Langworthy exclusively for eight years, and selects the seed personally. No rogueing (going through field and pulling out other varieties) is necessary here.