Brock McIntosh has been around potatoes a long time. His dad and grandfather started growing potatoes at Mid-Man Farms in Carberry, Man., in 1965 — when McIntosh was just two years old — and he’s been a full-time farmer with the family operation since the age of 22.
“My mom and dad made it possible for me to get into farming,” he says about his parents Don and Muriel, who still own Mid-Man along with McIntosh and his wife Donna. Two of his four kids — daughter Alysa and son David — are also involved in the farm.
A full-time staff of seven help run the 4,700-acre operation, where rye, wheat and canola are grown in addition to processing potatoes. McIntosh’s current crop of tubers — 800 acres of Russet Burbanks — is earmarked for potato processors Simplot and McCain Foods Canada.
McCain clearly considers the McIntosh clan among the area’s best producers, having named Mid-Man Farms its Champion Potato Grower for the Carberry plant three times in the past decade. The farm has also been in the top 10 for the award six times.
“At McCain, we have a philosophy and way of working that we call ‘It’s All Good’, and Mid-Man Farms is very good at what they do — which is growing high-yielding, high-quality potatoes,” says Bob Hyra, McCain’s field manager in Manitoba. “We have many good farmers who grow potatoes to supply our two manufacturing facilities here in Manitoba. To be champion of this group three times is truly an achievement, and is a testament to the hard work, dedication and attention to detail given each and every growing season by Brock and Donna, their family and the staff of Mid-Man Farms.”
McIntosh considers the award an honour, and gives much of the credit to Mid-Man’s staff. “It’s certainly very nice to get the recognition out of it, to let all the guys who work here know that they’ve done a very good job too,” he says.
Through the hard work of family members and employees who run the farm, yearly potato yields at Mid-Man have doubled since 1985. Also playing a role have been such factors as installing irrigation systems, applying lime to the fields to balance pH levels, and having a good field consultant who dispenses solid soil fertility advice.
McIntosh says he doesn’t see prices going up appreciably over the long haul – which makes better yields and improved efficiencies the key to potato profitability going forward. “I don’t see it moving up on price so I think we’re going to have to get better efficiencies … [from] both growers, processors — everybody in the industry,” he says.
As a long-time potato producer and one of McCain’s champion growers in Manitoba, McIntosh is definitely speaking from experience.