Otago Daily Times

Seed spud short­age on South’s shelves

- JOHN LEWIS john.lewis@odt.co.nz Gardening · Hobbies · South Island · Dunedin · New Zealand · Canterbury · Christchurch · Karaka · Ilam

AN­OTHER sud­den short­age of seed pota­toes has hit the south­ern re­gion.

For the third year in a row, most seed pota­toes have sold out, prompt­ing a South Is­land sup­plier to con­sider in­creas­ing grow­ing con­tracts by 15% next year.

Nichol’s Gar­den Cen­tre Dunedin as­sis­tant man­ager Craig Inch said there was very lit­tle seed potato stock left on the cen­tre’s shelves yes­ter­day, and this year’s sup­plies had sold par­tic­u­larly quickly.

‘‘It’s get­ting worse and worse each year. Peo­ple are get­ting in ear­lier each year be­cause of it.

‘‘We’ve cer­tainly had the de­mand, but the sup­ply hasn’t kept up with it.’’

Mor­ton Smith­Dawe Ltd, a Christchur­ch sup­plier of seed pota­toes for gar­den stores across the coun­try, said the firm was sold out of Ar­ran Ban­ner, Cliff Kid­ney, Haylo, Heather, High­lander, Jer­sey Benne, Karaka, Liseta, Maris An­chor, Moon­light, Pur­ple Heart, Red Fan­tasy, Red King, Rocket, Rua, Swift and Van Rosa va­ri­eties.

How­ever, it still had Agria, De­siree, Ilam Hardy, Na­dine, Pur­ple Pas­sion and Red Rascal.

Owner John Stan­ley said sup­plies were tra­di­tion­ally low at this time of year, be­cause peo­ple were plant­ing seed pota­toes for Christ­mas din­ners.

‘‘Ef­fec­tively, if you’re go­ing to have pota­toes for Christ­mas, they should be in the ground now.’’

How­ever, he be­lieved sup­plies had dis­ap­peared par­tic­u­larly quickly this year be­cause of the Covid­19 lock­down, when home­own­ers had time to plant veg­etable gar­dens and were in­spired to be more self­suf­fi­cient.

‘‘When the lock­down was over, they went out and bought their seed pota­toes and our or­ders then were crazy — just flat out.’’

He be­lieved de­mand was also grow­ing be­cause more young peo­ple were plant­ing so they could ‘‘skite’’ to friends about how they had grown their own pota­toes for Christ­mas.

The com­pany sup­plied seed pota­toes to up to 85% of New Zealand home gar­den stores.

‘‘We have in­di­vid­ual grow­ers that grow seed for us in higher coun­try around Can­ter­bury here, and we give them a con­tract to grow specif­i­cally for us.

‘‘We’ve got 23 dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties which we mar­ket.

‘‘Based on his­tor­i­cal data, we give them a con­tract to pro­vide 20 tonne of this and 60 tonne of that. So once that’s gone, that’s it.’’

There was ‘‘a fine line’’ be­tween or­der­ing too much stock and too lit­tle, he said.

‘‘We could order 30 tonne and only sell 20 tonne. That would leave us with 10 tonne of seed pota­toes that would sit around here rot­ting.

‘‘You can’t hold them over un­til next year.’’

How­ever, he said the com­pany planned to in­crease its sup­ply con­tracts by about 15% next year to bet­ter meet de­mand.

There were still some va­ri­eties of seed potato avail­able, but prob­a­bly not the most pop­u­lar ones.

So it was a good op­por­tu­nity to try some­thing new, he said.

 ?? PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY ?? Re­stock­ing . . . Nichol’s Gar­den Cen­tre staff mem­ber Adam Jamieson sorts the dwin­dling sup­ply of seed pota­toes in the Dunedin store yes­ter­day.
PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY Re­stock­ing . . . Nichol’s Gar­den Cen­tre staff mem­ber Adam Jamieson sorts the dwin­dling sup­ply of seed pota­toes in the Dunedin store yes­ter­day.

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