Potato Grower

March 2015

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www.potatogrower.com 21 tober through mid-January, and harvest time begins in February and lasts through early May. While growers in the northern climes may envy Jones's ability to grow through the winter months, he points out that there are challenges involved too. "It's just too wet to do much more than a cover crop in the sum- mer, which is hurricane season," he says. "What we fight down here is the white sands and growing through the shortest days of the year. It's tough to overtake the yields of Idaho or the [Red River] Valley when you've only got eight or 10 hours of sunlight a day." But Jones acknowledges the blessings of farming in Florida, and he's worked hard to improve his operation each year. In 2013 he was honored by the Fertilizer Institute with the institute's Stewardship Award for the Southeast region for converting from seepage to pivot irrigation, a move that Jones says conserves over 1 million gallons of water per day compared to historical water use numbers for potato production. "Irrigation here just depends," he says. "This sand down here soaks water up nicely, but it doesn't hold water for very long. There have been times where we haven't had a drop of rain during the whole potato season. Fertility pro- grams have to be able to adapt to weather situations. You need to put a base plan together, but you've got to be willing to change it when weather impacts your crop." (opposite page) In the ground. Jones Farm grows about a dozen potato varieties, which makes harvest run from February to May. (top) Almost ready. Alan Jones shows off some his reds in a field about to be harvested. (lower) Making a name. Since he moved his operation south to Parrish, Fla., Jones has enjoyed immense success, becoming one of the Sunshine State's most respected and well-known growers.

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