Growing potatoes for a living is a big enterprise like some other agricultural business ideas. The American harvest was worth $4.06 billion USD in 2021. With potato prices rising, these are good crops, and commercial farming is fairly straightforward.
Potato Cultivation in the United States
You’ll want to know how to make money farming, and if the farmers turn a good profit. Retail sales for potato farmers in the United States equaled around 15.6 billion USD in 2022.
There were 22,103 businesses farming potatoes in America in 2023.
Simple Steps to Start a Potato Farm
Starting a farm that grows potatoes is about more than the irrigation requirement and having good drainage. Here are some essential steps when you’re wondering how to start a farm that raises potatoes. Potatoes are members of the nightshade family which also includes eggplant and peppers. They get mashed and prepared in many ways.
Small farms on the rise include those selling fresh sweet potatoes.
Plan The Business
Name and Brand Your Business
Whether you’re selling at farmer’s markets or your own retail store, your brand name needs to be unique. The name needs to convey emotions.
Form a Legal Entity and Register Your Potato Business
Before you start harvesting, you might need to register your business. If you don’t you can miss out on some tax benefits.
A legal entity dictates the structure. Partnerships, Corporations and a Limited Liability Company (LLC) are a few choices.
Sort Out Taxes, Licenses, Permits and Insurance
Here’s an essential place to get started sorting out what you need for this kind of farming.
Create a Potato Farm Business Plan
With potato prices rising, sales have increased in dollar value in Q4 2022. You’ll need a business plan to finance these plants for your business.
A competitive analysis is critical. Highlight how your potato yield is different from the competition.
Do Market Research
Niches like organic agriculture business ideas are always in demand. A roadside farm stand is a good way to sell off the crop you harvest.
Here’s a link to how COVID-19 impacted demand.
Open a Business Bank Account
There’s a few things to consider. Like fees and minimum requirements.
Market the Business
Whether you want to advertise digitally or in other mediums, stress that potatoes are healthy. Don’t forget short-form videos too.
Look into Hiring Employees
Use social media to your full advantage. Job descriptions need to be short and specific. If you have employee referrals use them too. Applicant tracking software helps.
Research Where you Could Sell Your Products
Potatoes or solanum tuberosum are very popular with the “food enthusiast.” Doing some research can help you define a target market. Social media analytics is a great place to start.
Learn Everything You Can About Potato Cultivation
You’ll also need to have a good idea about production. About the nitty gritty of the crop and things like planting. Did you know this crop even has seeds?
Acquire the Necessary Equipment for Growing Potatoes and Harvesting Potatoes
You need the right machines if you’re going to work with potatoes. That includes everything from a crop sprayer to a harvester. Here’s a list to get started. Remember potatoes grow in the ground on stems.
Read on to find out more about what you need to do to get started. And remember potatoes turn green when they aren’t stored properly.
Purchase Seed Potatoes and Grow Potatoes
Planting starts here. Order seed potatoes online or from a store. Tubers begin at a seed rate of 800-1000 kg/acre. When you’re buying potato seeds for your business, remember a sweet potato vine is more ornamental than practical.
Here’s another tip. A seed potato usually isn’t treated with a sprout inhibitor.
Harvesting starts when leaves turn yellow brown.
Ventilated bins are the best bet. Minimum temperatures of around 55 to 65 degrees is best.
Sell the Potato Crop
Cold storage facilities allow for moisture retention and some time after these plants have been harvested from the ground. These facilities allow quality products to stay fresh until farmers can get a good price.
Expand Your Business
Planting potatoes is just the beginning. You want to expand your business. Choosing the right seed potatoes makes a big difference.
Dust seed potatoes with sulfur when possible. You can even plant potatoes in the fall.
Understanding The Steps in Growing Potatoes
The number of businesses planting plants has grown 1.4% between 2018 and 2023. Potatoes are big in Idaho, Washington and North Dakota.
Following are the steps this crop requires.
Having a Well Drained Soil
Choosing the wrong soil can lead to a damaged or misshapen tuber. The type of ground you choose is important for the plants.
Well-drained loam soil is best.
Planting the Seed Potatoes
Healthy plants should grow 10 to 20 inches apart from each other.
The best planting time is before the last spring frost.
Hilling the Potato Plants
When the potato vines reach 6 or 8 inches, they need to be hilled. This is another word for covered with loose organic matter. It’s a protective layer placed at ground level.
Irrigation of Potato Crops
Sprinkler systems are used to irrigate the tuber sprouts. A solid set or wheel line system can be used for each plant. Drip systems can prevent the spread of disease.
Manure helps tubers to grow in the soil. Livestock manure has been used for years. Remember the best pH range for the soil can dip as low as 5. Be prepared to test to find the best acidic soil. Fertilize each plant on the fourth week after the seeds have been growing tubers. Adding mulch is also good for tuber health
There are a few different things you need to consider for good management. But when the tubers start to bulk up, weeds in the soil can be an issue.
Here are a few solutions to choose from.
Usually, you can start harvesting when the foliage turns yellow.
Crop rotation is important if you’re looking for a healthy harvest. One year you harvest a crop of potatoes and the next year something different like spinach or lettuce.
Common Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For on a Potato Farm
Tubers and the plant can be prone to pests and disease. Like the following:
Dark brown patches are a symptom of this problem. It affects tubers from around the world. From South America to New England.
Fungal problems are the culprit here. These water molds develop in the soil and get at the potato plant.
How Profitable is Potato Farming?
The industry’s annual cash receipts for 2023 was $4,423 billion.
How Much Capital Do You Need for a Potato Farm?
You need about $5,000 USD an acre to run a farm.
The Bottom Line
Having a potato farm is a summer-long event you need to practice yearly. You need to pay attention to everything from the current sowing time to the best soil.
Potato Farm FAQs
How Much Land is Needed for Potato Cultivation?
You will need 1,500 acres to grow 500 acres of crop. Since you need to rotate the crop.
How Much do Potato Farmers Make?
According to Payscale, $ 65K USD yearly.
How Long do Potatoes Take to Grow?
Around 7 to 8 weeks.
Who is the Biggest Potato Farmer in Idaho?
The Idaho Potato King is Joe Marshall
What Would Be The Potato Crop from 1 Acre?
You can get 8.6 bushels per acre.
How Do You Grow Potatoes with Rot Resistance?
Potato rot is caused by a bacterium in the soil. The best way to prevent it is to avoid overwatering.
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