A fourth generation potato farmer from Virginia credits center pivot irrigation as part of the success behind his family's potato business.
"Pivots are not that unusual in this region, because the eastern shore has fairly sandy soils, and we need water every year. Irrigation pays for itself in this area,” said David Hickman, co-owner of Dublin Farms. “Occasionally we will have a wet season, but I don't think we've ever had a potato crop that we didn't irrigate at least once or twice.”
Dublin Farms is the one of the largest potato growers in the state – producing potatoes since the 1870’s along the eastern shoreline of Virginia. David and his brother, Phil, learned to farm under the guidance of their father and grandfather. Today, the brothers work alongside their sons Matthew, Mark and Phillip – the fifth generation to work on the family operation, which now includes a 25,000 square foot packing facility that is filled with the latest packing and grading equipment.
"We pack our potatoes in three-, five- and 10-pound bags - up to 2,000-pound bags that go to re-packers for chains,” Hickman said. “We pack under the Dublin Farms brand so people know that the potatoes are grown right here in Virginia. They bear the Virginia logo and say 'Virginia's Finest,' which is our ag department's designation of quality."
Today the operation produces round white potatoes, red skinned potatoes and a yellow flesh variety. They ship 12 – 15 loads of potatoes daily from late June through mid-August. Their shipments cover the entire east coast, including Canada, and go as far west as Cincinnati. They also raise green beans, as well as corn and soybeans for poultry feed.
“The Hickmans have a deep history in this region. It’s a first-class operation all the way,” said David Brown of Sussex Irrigation, the Zimmatic dealer that serves the DelMarVa region. “They do everything themselves – planting, fumigating, field work, harvesting and bagging. From the top down, they all get their hands dirty. From start to finish, they do it all.”
The Hickmans installed their first center pivot in 1982 and now have a total of 24 Zimmatic pivots currently working over their fields.
“We always hit a dry spell, even if only for a week or so," Hickman noted. "But with 90-degree heat and no rain, the crops definitely need water. You can't afford to have a crop failure with all of the inputs today. That’s the main reason why we have irrigation."’
To learn more about Dublin Farms, visit their website – www.dublinfarmspotatoes.com.
For more information about Zimmatic center pivot irrigation systems, talk to your local Zimmatic dealer or visit www.zimmatic.com.