Lehigh Acres, FL, November 20, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- Local potato farmers planting fields now for spring harvest
What’s the first state you think of when you’re shopping for potatoes? Chances are, it’s not Florida despite the fact that thousands of acres in southeast Lee County produce millions of pounds of potatoes each year. In fact, if you bite into a white, red, or yellow potato between February and April, it may have come from one of the Troyer Brothers farms in Lehigh Acres
The spuds’ journey from seed stock to countertop gets underway this month as planting begins at Troyer Brothers’ Lehigh farm site. The planting process isn’t what you might expect. There’s a lot more to it than digging a hole and dropping in a “seed.” At the Troyer Brothers’ operation, there’s a lot of technology involved that mingles with the family’s more than 50 years of potato farming experience
The Troyer family hails from Pennsylvania, where they have grown potatoes since 1943. In 1983, brothers Vern, Don and David started farms in Florida as well. Today, the brothers along with Dave’s son, Aaron, manage an up to 125-person operation producing approximately 50 million pounds of potatoes annually that are sold locally, nationally and in Canada under the Sun King or private labels.
Locals and potato aficionados agree that Troyer produces some of the “hottest” potatoes around come spring, but it takes several months of hard work to make them grow in Florida’s climate.
"Growing potatoes in Florida is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole," says Aaron Troyer. "Potatoes like to start out in cool temperatures, grow in warmth and get harvested when it's cool again. We do the opposite."
Before any potatoes are planted, fields must be leveled flat using lasers. Water levels are stabilized using water tables and ditches. Fields are fertilized and treated with pesticides. “Seed potatoes” – often potatoes harvested at Troyer Brothers’ farm in Pennsylvania – are chopped into seeds, or chunks containing at least one eye.
When this is done, seeds are loaded into tractors that dig a ridge in the dirt, drop in a seed, and re-cover the opening in a single pass. The space between seeds can be adjusted electronically from the tractor. Over the next few months, weather and other conditions are monitored carefully to ensure water levels are adjusted to stay just right. Potatoes planted today should be ready to harvest between February and April 2010.
Troyer Brothers welcomes members of the media to visit the Lehigh Farm for interviews and photograph or video the planting process. To arrange a visit, contact Mary Briggs at 239-278-3900 (office), 239-851-0136 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org.