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In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

Find this edition of the Seed Piece and Another 30 Years more in our Wood Prairie Seed Piece Archives.

 Seed Work Aplenty.

Racking Over Seed-For-Planting on Wood Prairie Family Farm.

      We pre-grade our entire crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes in November and December. That effort allows us to make a quick final inspection of seed tubers throughout the main Seed Shipping season before sending them upstairs for the crew to bag & box.

     Similarly, this time of year when we’re getting our own seed ready to plant, it’s an involved but efficient process to look over Seed Potatoes in a process referred to in Aroostook County, Maine, as “racking over seed.”

     In this photo, Caleb (at left) and Justin have set up two “Haines Single Baggers” to rack over the tail end of a hardwood Pallet Box that was full of Baltic Rose Seed Potatoes. We always start in with the most dormant varieties first – Red Cloud, Baltic Rose, Prairie Blush and Yukon Gold – to give them extra time to wake up out of dormancy. This racking is the first step in our process of greenspounting 25,000 pounds of Seed Potatoes to get them ready to go into the ground next month.

     As you can see, it’s chilly work even though the underground Potato Storage temperature has migrated up to 40ºF from its Winterlong perch at 38ºF. The hydraulic Bin Rotator on the electric Yale Forklift gently pours the spuds onto a four-foot wide Haines Nylon Brusher which buffs clean the Seed Potatoes and that step helps increase the thoroughness of the inspection process. Haines Manufacturing, twenty-five miles away in nearby Presque Isle, has been making solid Potato handling equipment for over 100 years. One piece of our Haines grading equipment is now seventy years old and to this day runs like a top. Detroit, please take note.

     In this issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece we share additional Farm Stories highlighting the work which goes on during this busy time of year on our Maine family farm. Plus find a Limited-Time Offer for FREE Organic Maine Certified Caribou Russet Seed Potatoes. This new Mid-Season Caribou Russet was bred at the Potato Experiment Station in Presque Isle and named after the Town of Caribou, another eleven miles further north. Also, we feature a fun recent video by Master Gardener Jill McSheehy of ‘The Beginner’s Garden’ podcaster fame and how she gets her Seed Potatoes ready for planting on her homestead in NW Arkansas.

     For going on 50 years, Wood Prairie Family Farm has been growing crops 100% Organically. Not to brag, but we are your organic experts, so please come to us for ALL your Organic needs, including Organic Seed Potatoes, Organic Sweet Potato Slips, Organic Vegetable Seed, Organic Herb Seed, Organic Flower Seed, Organic Cover Crop Seed, Organic Fertilizer, and Tools and Supplies.

     Thank you! And as these days get longer wherever you are, please enjoy your Spring!


Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine



Special Offer! FREE Organic Maine Certified 'Caribou Russet' Seed.

Place a New Order and Receive a FREE  1 lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Caribou Russet Seed Potatoes
with a Minimum $65 Order. FREE Caribou Russet must ship with order and no later than 5/15/23.

Please use Coupon Code WPFF251.

How-To Gardening Resources.


Wood Prairie Family Farm Stories.

Sprouted Seed Potatoes After A Week in the ‘Hot Room.’ In this photo, a pallet of Mushroom Totes filled with Sarpo Mira Seed Potatoes for planting obey the musical-chair-procedure of Wood Prairie Greenspouting. Called “Chitting” in Europe, Greensprouting is an optional seed conditioning procedure we find valuable for our farm. After spending a week in the Hot Room – set at 75ºF – these palletized Seed Tubers have broken dormancy and have been moved into purposely cooler 50-55ºF conditions. Here, they will also be exposed to twenty-four-hour-light in order to green up sprouts and tubers, a critical step which conserves vigor and minimizes sprout elongation. By sprouting tubers at the high temperature of 75 degrees, apical dominance (the dominance of a seed tuber’s “seed end” opposite the stem) is suppressed, and secondary sprouts are encouraged to emerge from the other eyes located all around the seed tuber. More sprouts mean more stems (or plants) per acre, which makes for higher set (number of tubers) per acre. Having a high set per acre lays the foundation for the best crop and highest possible yields. Greenspouting also cuts down the growth cycle in the field by 10-14 days.

Caleb Shuttles Around Seed Tubers Undergoing Greensprouting. We fill our insulated Hot Room to capacity, placing the most dormant varieties furthest in back. After a week or so the Medium Dormancy varieties will have sprouted. Those pallets of properly sprouted Potatoes are removed, cooled down to 50ºF and exposed to light. The stubborn varieties are left in the Hot Room for a second week. The second wave of Pallets of newly racked over seed get jammed into the Hot Room. In a week’s time everything in the Hot Room will have sprouted and we can fill it again with a third wave of Medium and Short Dormancy Potato varieties like Organic Russian Banana and Organic All Blue. This time of year we focus on shipping out orders the early part of the week and shift to racking and Greenspounting seed at the end of the week. Here, Caleb is delivering a pallet of racked-over early generation Organic Huckleberry Gold to the Hot Room and ferrying back pallets of Potatoes which have gone through sprouting. The pallet in the foreground are Organic Prairie Blush, a delicious clonal variant we discovered growing a in a field of Organic Yukon Gold on our farm in 2001. With the help of University Potato breeders in Maine and New York we went through the effort and got Prairie Blush recognized officially as a distinct new bi-color Potato variety.

Ducks and Ice on Wood Prairie’s ‘Big Pond.’ This week several mating pairs of Mallard Ducks moved onto our Big Pond. As each day passed the residual ice continued to shrink in size, allowing the Ducks more room to swim. This vantage is looking south from the irrigation “Z-Pipe” which dives underground and connects with our 6-inch underground irrigation main lines. The red pressure-relief-valve helps keep the fairly high pressure irrigation system safe. We quickly formed up and poured that concrete pad for our diesel irrigation pump one Summer day when we had some Redi-Mix concrete left over from another building project. The last of the Pond ice had been protected by the trees to the south. If you look carefully, you can see the Ducks swimming just this side of the ice. The very next day the ice had entirely disappeared. The ice on our two Ponds used to go out in May but this is now the second year running that the ice has departed in late April. We dug the first portion of this irrigation Pond in 1985. We’ve expanded it twice since then and it now has a surface area of one-and-a-half-acres. It is twelve-feet deep at the deepest end. Good place for hardworking ducks to raise a family.

  Breaking News! Hold the Presses! Baby Calf Story!
This heifer calf was born today and Megan took the photo inside her barn. The baby calf was just a couple hours old and maneuvering to suckle for the first time. Her mother, ‘Petunia,’ is Low-Line Angus crossed with Irish Dexter. In recent years we’ve been shifting to using the beefier Low Line Angus as sires. Cows are curious critters - as you can see – as the other herd-mates watch the action. We keep cows to eat up our cull Potatoes and turn that waste into the benefit of pasture-raised beef. Our cows are efficient forage machines and basically eat grass in the Summer and hay in the Winter, supplemented by ground up Potatoes. Low Line Angus are naturally polled, meaning they don’t grow horns. In that way they are safer both for bovines and humans alike. These two breeds are famous for their good temperaments.


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Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 / 207 (429) - 9682
Certified Organic From Farm to Mailbox