The kind East Suffolk climate allows Bruce Kerr to produce early crops for processing and loose skin Maris Peer for the supermarkets on a range of soils from blowing sands to heavy clay. The East Midlands and Eastern Counties combined grow more that 40% of the 121,000 hectare GB crop.
“Potatoes are extremely valuable crop to our region,” says Bruce. “The industry is a large employer locally, so there’s great importance to the wider economy in having a robust and sustainable industry producing potatoes.”
Potato growers are passionate people but getting best quality potatoes to the Christmas dinner plate is getting more and more technical. Just like all the 2,000 highly specialised GB growers, who incorporate potatoes as part of their farming operation, Bruce’s crop requires specialist machinery, agronomy and management.
“Independent, evidence based information is crucial to ensuring the industry moves forward,” stresses Bruce. “Potato Council spends £1.4m annually on R&D topics chosen by the industry as being important to the sector. The world class programme levers funding from third parties and partnerships meaning they are involved in R&D projects worth £15m to benefit the GB grower base.”
In the last five seasons the on farm seed rate, nutrient and irrigation management changes I have implemented on the back of Potato Council funded research has not only improve our yields and resource efficiency, the changes have allowed my customers to benefit from a more consistent and higher quality supply. Potato Council is vital to ensure GB remains a world leading producer of potatoes.”
As a grower it’s important to Bruce that future generations learn where the potatoes on their Christmas plate come from, how they grow and that they’re a healthy food.
“A potato is a naturally fat-free source of fibre and vitamin B6; it has more potassium than three bananas; has a lower environmental impact than rice and pasta; and contributes £4.7bn to the GB economy,” enthuses Bruce.
“Potato Council’s education programme is second to none. Since 2005, over 2 million primary school children have taken part in ‘Grow Your Own Potatoes’ which is firmly embedded in the schools’ curriculum. In addition, more than 2,000 secondary schools have participated in the ‘Cook Your Own Potatoes’. This ensures the great attributes of my potatoes are embedded through to adulthood
and I’ve been actively involved with these campaigns at local shows.”
Bruce Kerr produces asparagus, cereals, oilseed rape, sugar beet, pea and potato crops close to the Suffolk coast. All his potatoes are marketed through his North Lincolnshire business Arundel Kerr Produce.