Thursday, 6 January 2011

2010 Oca Crop - Harvest

In agriculture there is always a 'right time' to do things, but even with hindsight it would be hard to define the best time to lift the Oca this year. Getting a balance between delaying harvest to maximise tuber development, versus lifting early to avoid damage from frost is a difficult call at the best of times, but this year it was always going to be wrong; with a very early first-frost in October, and a record-breaking cold spell in December, this was not an 'Oca-year'.
The top growth has been dead for several weeks now, but harvest has been delayed either by snow cover, sub-zero temperatures, heavy rain, or pessimism-induced lethargy. However, the snow cover has been the saviour of the crop... has insulated the ground during the really cold spell, so most tubers have escaped damage.
Tubers are generally small, and yield is well below that of previous years, but a few plants have produced a reasonable crop, while a couple have failed to make any tubers at all.
The unfavourable conditions have at least acted to highlight the productivity differences between varieties.  My planting stocks have been maintained, and there are enough extras for swapping and eating.

So a bad year, but mustn't grumble.


  1. It was a very harsh year right across Ireland and the UK - but your yellow and especially the red tubers look great.
    I harvested a little earlier in the year, perhaps that was a mistake - but it was my first year growing Oca.
    Keep up the good work and keep us all informed as to next years planting date

  2. From where I'm sitting, Ian, you're doing well! You'll probably get a meal out your ocas - don't think I will. All of which leads me to conclude that a breeding programme is required, but then I would say that, wouldn't I?

    Here's hoping for bumper crops this season.

  3. Hi Simon. Yes, they look great, but the cook is not impressed by their size. The replant tubers are pretty good at letting you know when they are ready to be planted; they should start sprouting much like potatoes.
    Owen, but for the snow blanket, I think I would have been wiped out. As for a breeding programme, I have negotiated growing space on an extra couple of beds for this year, but it is not going to make much of a contribution to your vision of 100,000 plants.

  4. I had some Oca growing this year in County Leitrim, Ireland, (they'd actually self seeded from tubers I'd left in the poly tunnel bed last winter.)
    I dug them up in October and found that I had a small, but decent enough crop.
    Interestingly, I originally planted a mix of pink and white, but this years crop was 100% white.

  5. I think the white seems to tuberise earlier, so maybe the pink just did not have time enough - it failed on the Darwinian selection criteria.
    If the polytunnel can be kept cool in summer, I could see you getting good results in a normal year. You could pretty well count on keeping the crop frostfree until mid winter for a nice late harvest.

  6. I had wanted to grow of a this year but I was too late to buy tubers from the suppliers I found. From the photographs you seem to have a huge variety of colours etc. I wonder if you would sell me some. I'm very ignorant about growing them and have a lot of reading to do. Do you grow any other interesting vegetables? My potatoes this year got blight but we had a few. I've decided to grow nearly all vegetables which you can't buy in the shop as it's soul destroying to see very reasonably priced vegetables in shops when I've slaved to grow my own. Regards JH