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Meet our Growers – Dean Ryan

The WA Potatoes team spoke to Dean Ryan, a Western Australian potato and beef farmer, to find out a little more about how he runs his day to day operation. From harvesting, washing and delivery to the store in a day, to early wake ups and life on the farm, we asked questions that you all want to know.

  • How long have you been farming potatoes?

“Me personally, since ’88. So that must be 30 years. 30 years too long, ha-ha! I have enjoyed it, although the last couple years with the potato board gone, it has gotten harder.  It’s been pretty hard to get used to it to be honest with you, but not much you can do about it.”

  • How has the industry changed over time?

“The quality standards, which are the cosmetic quality standards, have increased remarkably and have got a lot harder to fulfil. The bar has been lifted every year and were probably throwing out more spuds now, causing more waste.  But I don’t think we’re on our own with that issue in the veggie industry, even bananas are now getting thrown out because they’re straight.”

  • Describe a general day in the life of a potato farmer.

“I would probably get up about 6am, generally head out and get the irrigation system onto the spuds, while there’s no wind. Then I’ll come back in and eat breakfast before I head back out and check the spuds, might do some spraying or whatever else is necessary for the day. Every day is really different, you know you might be organising workers, cleaning spuds, or ordering supplies and your growing materials – it’s always different.”

  • What is your favourite variety of potatoes?

“Mine is probably Orchestra for growing. Not something you’d see written in the shop and they don’t label them as that, but it’s easy to get a cosmetic and clean appearance with them, and they don’t have to many defects! For eating, probably one called Laura, red skin, very deep yellow flesh, only problem is they are harder to grow.”

  • How long does it take for a potato to get from farm to stores?

“From the moment we harvest, the potatoes are usually delivered within the day, if not a day and a half to the store. We start harvesting in the morning and depending on how many orders we have, we will have the trucks ready for lunch to head to the shops.”

  • What other produce do you think goes best with potatoes?

“Steak. I grow beef as well, so it goes really well!”

  • Finally, what’s your favourite way to cook potatoes?

“My favourite potato dishes… I’m tossing up, but I think having them in a Massaman curry with Laura potatoes, because they have that real yellow look about them and they hold together really well and have great taste!”

The WA Potatoes team thanks Dean for his time and allowing us to spend a day with him. Do you have questions you want answered? Feel free to send them in on our Facebook page and we will put them to our farmers!

Our local growers consistently work hard to deliver the best potatoes available, so make sure you support our WA farmers and buy WA Potatoes!