The red potato season could exceed 3000 tonnes harvested, in Ibiza

Jun 25, 2023 | Current affairs, Featured, Revista Lloseta, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

With 158 tonnes sown in 2023, production is expected to exceed 3,000 tonnes between the two harvests.

Red potato season

The Can Llusià estate in Santa Gertrudis has been the setting for presenting the data from Ibiza’s new red potato harvest campaign which began in mid-May. The figures show that the potato crop has remained the main crop in Ibiza over the years with 158 tonnes sown in 2023, and a production that is expected to exceed 3,000 tonnes between the two harvests.

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In recent years, priority has been given to the varieties with the best culinary aptitudes: the Desirée variety has increased its representation with 34 tonnes sown and the Kondor variety has moved into second place with half the amount of seed sown in 2014. In terms of red varieties, the fast-cycle Bartina variety has doubled the number of kgs down to 21 tonnes. On the other hand, there is also a greater presence of white-skinned varieties, which in 2023 reached 41% of the kg sown, compared to 33% in 2014. In terms of varieties, it is worth highlighting the decline of the Picasso variety with the introduction of the Agria potato, a variety that is well known throughout Europe for its suitability for frying and which respond to the demand from the catering industry, especially from chefs who are not originally from Ibiza.

In this way, the supply of potatoes grown in Ibiza maintains, on the one hand, the commitment to the red Desirée variety, of excellent culinary quality, the only one to date that is comparable to the old Ibizan variety and which, therefore, preserves the tradition of a red variety with dual suitability for traditional cuisine, together with the Bartina variety; and on the other, the introduction of the white Agria variety, which competes with the Desirée variety as a variety for frying, although it is not a variety suitable for boiling, has been verified.

Importance of the red potato

The Ibiza red potato is the most renowned vegetable product. It can be found in restaurants, shops, supermarkets, and now some 600 tonnes are being exported by a large producer to Mallorca, the land of potatoes, and Menorca through the Eroski chain. And it is also one of the main crops for our horticulturists, the sector that brings together the bulk of professionals dedicated to agriculture, along with watermelon and tomato.

Thanks to Ibiza’s mild climate, two crops can be grown: a semi-late crop, sown in February, which is harvested at the end of May; and a late potato crop, sown in August, which is harvested from the end of November onwards. In this way, the annual demand can be covered, except for the months of October and November, in winter, and in March and April, while waiting for the new potato.

In Ibiza, the type of potato is completely different to that consumed on the mainland or in the rest of Europe, where white-skinned varieties predominate. In Ibiza, on the other hand, 66% of the potatoes grown are red potatoes. The origin of the prestige lies in the old red potato, the only variety that has been preserved from those that were grown in the Ibiza market gardens. There were white, pink and purple, but we have lost them. And if the old red potato was preserved, it is because it had the dual ability to fry without burning and boil without falling apart, so traditional dishes could be made with just one variety. It is one of the basic ingredients of our gastronomy, and is found in simple dishes such as potato lettuce -now known as ensalada payesa-, in all the traditional fried octopus, pork or offal dishes, and in the most renowned dishes such as suf sufrido payés or boiled fish.

The Can Llucià estate, where the presence of this red potato harvest campaign took place, in the centre of the island, is an area of red soil which, thanks to the introduction of water pumping systems, has been able to introduce irrigated crops. It is an example of a small family farm with a productive orientation towards extensively irrigated crops such as potatoes and chindria, one of the most common types of farming in Eivissa. It is also characterised by maintaining a large flock of sheep which, in addition to providing economic support for the sale of lambs, provides a fundamental element for a farm and even more so for potato cultivation: sheep manure.