Fred Hartley Estates Ltd is a 4th generation family farm incorporated in 1947 farming some 900ha of silt and skirt land around Upwell and Lakesend in the Cambridgeshire fens. There have been many changes in the way food is produced over that time from the introduction of new machines to replace horses, to the advancement in fertilisers and pesticides. The aims of farming have changed considerably, going from producing as much food as possible to being a customer lead industry producing high quality products.
Currently we are growing:
- 160ha of potatoes
- 80ha of onions
- 100ha of sugar beet
- 250ha of winter wheat
- 70ha of Oil Seed Rape
The rest of the land is either part of an environmental or game conservancy scheme and we also participate in a land share agreement to grow pumpkins and courgettes.
We aim to grow the highest yield possible we do so in a way which is as kind to the environment as possible. We maintain a strict 1 in 6 rotation for potatoes and onion to reduce potato cystnematode and soil born bacterial diseases
Potatoes are our main business and from August to July our central grading station at Firtree farm, Lakes End, will be sending out up to 120 tonnes/day.
The bags are branded with either our Jolly Roger or Freddies Fryers logo and used in the chipping trade mainly in Scotland and Ireland.
Varieties grown have been dominated by Maris Piper for the past 40 years, but recently Piper has been eclipsed by the new Dutch variety Markies. Markies ticks all the boxes for producing a consistent, golden, bruise free chip well into the season.
We are proud to have been selected as one of the few growers in the UK by Agrico to grow and market this exciting new variety as part of the Markies Club.
Other varieties grown include Maris Piper, Markies, Sigitta, Ramos and Compass for chipping and Melody and Jelly for the supermarket trade.
Onions are mainly marketed through Rustler Produce at Chatteris, which are either pre packed for Sainsbury's or processed.
We grow a full range of onions including spring sets, reds and browns from our cold stores and sophisticated Controlled Atmosphere Store.
At the moment our sugar beet is contracted for British Sugar and is processed at the nearby Wissington factory, which has recently been adapted to turn any excess beet into bio-fuel.
The combinable crops are marketed through Fengrain a large local co-operative. We grow varieties such as Target, Viscount, Gallant and Einstein for the feed and milling industries.