In the Sverdlovsk region, almost a third of the potatoes are left unpeeled. The situation is very difficult. Such a wet autumn, according to farmers, was not long ago. But it slows down the harvesting of tubers and the lack of workers in the field. Photo: Alexey Kunilov.
The agrarians of the Sverdlovsk region have not encountered such a difficult harvest for a long time: heavy, prolonged rains in September led to a strong overmoistening of the soil. It is especially difficult to harvest potatoes this year, for the first time in decades, there is a threat that part of it will go under the snow. Even dry weather has not always allowed to harvest tubers.
It remains to remove a third
According to the Ministry of Agroindustrial Complex and Consumer Market of the Sverdlovsk Region, as of October 4, 62,5 percent of potatoes were harvested in the region, more than five thousand hectares remained, although in ordinary years, the digging of tubers had already been completed by that date.
“Potato growers have never faced such a situation, so that during the harvesting period there was so much moisture in the fields,” says Igor Kartuzov, deputy chairman of the non-profit partnership Union of Producers of Potatoes, Vegetables, Fruits and Berries of the Sverdlovsk Region. - The dry weather, which is now, has somewhat dried the top layer of the soil, but below the ground still remains damp, and it is very difficult to harvest potatoes. Those who have fields in the lowlands suffer especially, they cannot take potatoes from there.
According to Igor Kartuzov, many farms can lose from 10 to 20 percent of the crop grown in the field. And it is very good this year, even now, under difficult harvesting conditions, the average potato yield in the region is within 200 centners per hectare, which is 25 centners higher than last year. But so far, the region's farms have harvested less potatoes than last year - 179 thousand tons instead of 237 thousand tons in 2018. And it's all to blame for the rainy summer and no less rainy autumn.
- There is no reason for panic in this. The main volume of potatoes has already been harvested, in the region there is traditionally a surplus of potato production, the farms have already learned how to store it, so even with such an amount, the price for it for the consumer should remain at the level of the last year, - Igor Kartuzov believes.
There is no panic, of course. However, it's a shame - the harvest has grown, but you can't get it all.
Potato yield this year in places reaches 45 tons per hectare. But when harvesting, farmers are faced with an acute shortage of labor. Photo: Alexey Kunilov
Now, for the sake of saving the potato crop in many farms, almost real labor feats and records are performed in the field. So, farmer Andrey Kunnikov from the potato capital of the region, the village of Baraby, near Bogdanovich, has 300 hectares of this crop. One harvester works, they manage to harvest eight hectares a day, as a result, 300 tons of tubers pass through the bunker of the machine every day. Approximately so much, for reference, is collected by 100 people on a selection of potatoes after digging. Usually, a modern potato harvester harvests 4–6 hectares a day.
- I have probably the best combine harvester in the region, - says Andrey Kunnikov. - Yuri Lyzhin came to me at the age of 21 and has been working with me for 15 years. Probably no one picks up as many potatoes as he does on a combine. He leaves the field at seven in the morning, finishes at 12 at night.
This farm is already completing the harvesting of potatoes, and it lasted almost 2,5 months: the first shipments of early potatoes fell here on July 22. This is how the harvesting of "second bread" in the Middle Urals can be delayed.
For almost two months, potatoes have been harvested this year in AO AIC "Belorechensky" of the Beloyarsk urban district, in the largest vegetable-growing enterprise in the region. Here, this crop covers 1 hectares. According to the general director of the enterprise, Alexander Kozhevnikov, now there is no less than 200 hectares left to harvest.
- We should finish by Saturday, weather permitting. In September, the weather did not allow cleaning for 10 days, and this is a lot for the harvest, - he says.
In Belorechenskoye, eight harvesters are engaged in harvesting potatoes; perhaps, there are not so many in any other farm in the region. But, as the current cleaning has shown, this amount may not be enough.
“We need to increase the number of potato harvesters, and also deal with the transport logistics for removing potatoes from the field,” the head of the agro-industrial complex draws conclusions based on the results of the current harvest.
Potato harvesters show performance wonders by working 17 hours a day. Photo: Alexey Kunilov
Dear foreign worker
But not everywhere in the oblast potatoes are harvested with harvesters - some farms in the old fashioned way attract seasonal workers for manual harvesting of tubers. And this year they faced a problem: raids by law enforcement officers significantly reduced the influx of labor from Central Asia.
- We traditionally have workers from Kyrgyzstan coming to clean. Now the police are slowing them down, the buses on which they come have been checked, as a result, the number of foreign workers has greatly decreased, '' says Pyotr Kuznetsov, a farmer from the Bogdanovichi urban district. - I believe that from scratch they created a problem for agriculture, and in the midst of harvesting.
The farmer has 50 hectares of potatoes unharvested. According to him, it will no longer be possible to remove them. And the fault is the lack of workers in the field. The farmer managed to attract, as he put it, “only three grandmothers” from local residents to work on the farm.
Due to the shortage of labor in the fields, their value skyrocketed. Today, according to Petr Kuznetsov's calculations, the cost of a kilogram of potatoes is 3,5 rubles - the wages of workers for harvesting. With a purchase price of six rubles, there is no point in harvesting such potatoes. This is another reason, in addition to the weather, why this year thousands of hectares of second bread are still unharvested.
A source: https://www.oblgazeta.ru/