Meet our Growers – Andrew Tempra

The WA Potatoes team spoke to Andrew Tempra, a Western Australian potato and beef farmer, to find out a little more about how he runs his day to day operation. In this interview, Andrew takes us through his history in potato farming and his favourite potato varieties for both eating and growing.

  • How long have you been farming potatoes and how did you start?

“Well, the family has been farming since the early 1950’s.  I came back to the farm in 2003, so 15 years ago.  I was away for about 11 years, and then when Dad retired I came back onto the farm.”

  • How has the industry changed over time?

“I suppose there has been a few changes, the demand for quality has increased and we have better communication and feedback with our customers now, through the wash packers or the potato chip factory here and we’ve tailored our production to suit.”

“So, there is a lot more customer feedback now than there was 20 or 30 years ago. There are new varieties with different qualities. There are also increased production costs, although we’ve learnt newer efficient ways of doing things too such as GPS marking and in the last 8-10 years there has been a focus on our soil and doing different things to increase our soil health.”

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

“It depends on the time of the year, but when it’s summer we harvest and irrigate and everything else – which means we get up between 5:30 and 6 am.  The first job is to get the irrigation going, and then we will also be harvesting on some days. Harvesting would be done mid to late morning, and then we would have a break. Then later we would finish up with more irrigation, feeding the cows, and all that kind of thing. Then at different times of year the jobs are different. When we are in planting season in the late spring, we don’t get up so early and start around 7. Then we do all our other fencing jobs and so on in the meantime.”

  • What is your favourite variety of potatoes for eating and to grow?

“I’m a pretty big fan of the Laura potato, they’re a nice red, and even the Royal Blue but not so much for growing! I would probably lean towards those two the most in the red/blue category. They’re definitely the best ones for me anyway.”

  • How long does it take for your potatoes to get from a harvest to stores?

“We harvest early in the morning and then they get transported to Perth overnight, and then they get washed the following morning early, so about 24 hours would be the timeframe from paddock to on the supermarket shelf.”

  • What other food do you think goes best with potatoes? (Beef, other vegetables?)

“It would have to be beef, so any variety of beef and potato combination is perfect!”

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

“I’m not much of a cook myself but you can’t beat gnocchi as far as it goes with fresh spuds or a nice potato bake as well!”

The WA Potatoes team thanks Andrew 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 West Australian Farmers consistently work hard to deliver the best potatoes available, so make sure you support our WA farmers and buy WA Potatoes!