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TAS Country : February 24th 2011
uary 25, 2011 15 actory's purple patch and Susie Daly, and the team at the Dalys' factory at Boomer Bay. Pictures: KIM EISZELE When you start from such small beginnings you don't want to say you're the biggest.' BUSY: Susie Daly attends to some paperwork, above, and Barbara Crocker sorts potatoes, left. The grower is Gary Hewitt from Beulah on Tasmania's North-West Coast. ''Gary and his wife are very passionate about potatoes and that's what I want -- I need all that knowledge. ''The amazing thing for me about this potato is that is purple all the way through and it is purple after it is cooked.'' Susie said interest in the potatoes had spread like wildfire. ''I had a gut feeling that they would be right and the response in restaurants would be amazing,'' she said. ''It's been a huge risk but it's already paying off, we have had the biggest independent wholesaler Harris Farm say 'I want those potatoes'.'' The Dalys grow and supply Tasmanian, Melbourne and Sydney wholesalers with Binjes, Nicolas, Red Rascals, Dutch Creams, Kennebecs and Pink Eyes. They are flat out increasing the volume of Purple Gems to meet consumer demand and expect to harvest their first major crop in three weeks. While the Dalys are the biggest potato growers in the south-east, Susie said their first harvest was a humble affair. ''Gerard started by harvesting ten bags with a pitch fork,'' she said. ''When you start from such small beginnings you don't want to say you're the biggest. ''And in this game you have to be very careful because they're expensive to grow.'' Gerard and Susie own 360ha and lease another 50ha from farmers around the district. They have 80ha devoted to spuds and rotate paddocks in four year intervals. The Dalys pay for water and pumping costs on their leased ground. ''Good potato ground is hard to come by,'' Gerard said. Leasing land from sheep farmers is a win-win for the Dalys. ''We work it up and then they can plant poppies -- it works well for our farmers,'' Gerard said. ''The centre pivot is the best thing since sliced bread because travellers are hard work.'' The relationship between husband and wife in the business has strict boundaries. The pair disagrees quite often but issues are always resolved. ''It's hard,'' Gerard said. ''You just have to draw a line, that's her job and that's my job, she runs the shed and I run the farm.'' The science of agronomy is very important on the farm too. ''You can't guess anymore,'' Gerard said. ''We have probes underneath the pivots to provide information about the water stress line. Sap analysis or petioles provides information about the health of the plants. ''If you don't adopt the new technology, you get left behind,'' Gerard said. Nicola potatoes are Gerard and Susie's favourite spuds and they are partial to new season Pink Eyes too. They love their Nicolas mashed or in a potato bake. ''We're pretty simple,'' Gerard said. Customers have told the Dalys their Pink Eyes are the best they have ever tasted. ''We are pleased about that because sometimes new season Pink Eyes don't always taste that good. ''We always thought the sun put the flavour in them but it is the nutritional program that is making the difference.'' Ex-Tasmanians on the mainland who want Pink Eyes can buy four 1kg packages and have them posted in a crate via the Dalys' website. The pair says they have learned a lot since they first started growing Purple Gems. ''We have come a long way in the past two years,'' Gerard said For more information about the Dalys' potatoes go to www.dalygourmetpotatoes.com.au
February 17th 2011
March 3rd 2011