This year NedaLibya would like to give you a close-up insight into the growing of Royal ZAP Spunta. We will follow the crop through its growing season and harvest until its final arrival and planting into Libyan soil. By doing so we hope to give you an idea of what makes a Royal ZAP potato, and provide you with an insight into its life cycle, and the process and care involved before it finally arrives on your field or your dinner plate.

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Why Royal ZAP Spunta?

Spunta has a long tradition in Libya: with its high resistance against heat & drought and good suitability for cutting the larger tubers, with its light yellow flesh and long oval shape perfect for making the tasty traditional Libyan dish M’Batten, it has been a favourite of the Libyan market since decades. Royal ZAP has a decades long experience in growing Spunta: in fact, farmers who have grown HZPC Spunta in the past, might have grown Royal ZAP without knowing it, as up until 8 years ago Royal ZAP grew Spunta that HZPC used for its export overseas. Furthermore, farmers in all countries of the Magreb as well as Egypt are already familiar with growing Royal ZAP Spunta for many years.

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Season 2021/2022

The Royal ZAP Spunta destined for export to Libya inter alia in the season to come, have been planted in May under good weather conditions. Royal ZAP can rely on an extensive network of experienced growers, with many of whom they enjoy a longstanding relationship dating back many years. The mutual trust and experience that have thus grown, enable Royal ZAP to supply its customers with high quality seed potatoes, year in year out. This is no different for farmer Mr. Geluk who has been growing seed potatoes for Royal ZAP for nearly a decade. The Wieringermeer, the polder in the Netherlands where his farm is located, has a great reputation for fertile sea clay, as the Wieringermeer consists of land reclaimed from the sea in the year 1930. In the case of farmer Geluk his land consists mainly of light clay soil. It's here that we can witness the planting of Spunta in progress that makes for Royal ZAP quality.


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Propagating material

All propagating material of Royal ZAP undergoes extensive quality testing, both in the field and the laboratory to give it the best possible starting position. All testing is done by NAK, the Dutch General Inspection Service for agricultural seeds and seed potatoes. NAK is an independant foundation. As the season progresses, we will give you an insight into the vital work this organisation performs to make sure that Dutch seed potatoes uphold their reputation for excellence worldwide. Apart from testing by NAK, Royal ZAP also inspects every Royal ZAP plot themselves, in order to classify the potatoes in preparation for export to their final destination.

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Soil preparation

Before planting Mr. Geluk has taken great care to prepare his seed bed. He naturally observes crop rotation to ensure the best possible protection against nematodes. As such, the soil has not been used for potato cultivation in at least the three previous years. To provide his crop with the nutrition it needs and to help keep his soil in optimal condition, Mr. Geluk has his soil analysed every four years by an independent soil research company. Based on the results of their research Mr. Geluk receives a fertilizer scheme with detailed advice on which fertilizer to administer and in which quantities both before and during the growing season. During the season he can adjust the nutrient content of his crop even more precise by using foliage fertilizer.

As the soil is very light, ploughing is done in spring shortly before planting. Two things that are crucial when it comes to soil preparation are: a good structure of the soil and well-developed ridges. The seed bed has to be levelled so that all potatoes can be planted at the same depth, so that they emerge around the same time as well. Also the soil needs to be loose enough, enabling the tubers and their root systems to develop and grow freely. The importance of sufficient ridging cannot be underestimated, as all tubers will form in the soil above the mother potato. Sufficient ridges provide the tuber with the necessary space in which to develop itself and it provides protection against tuber greening. In hot climates especially it also protects the potatoes against high temperatures and tuber moth.

Planting

On Mr. Geluk’s farm in the Wieringermeer the potatoes were planted on the 3rd of May by a fully automated planter which covers the seeds after planting at around 15 cm deep. The planter has been set to a distance of 75 cm between rows, the planting distance varies from between 10 to 25 cm, depending on whether the desired final size of the tubers is 28-35 mm or 60+.