If you ask Ron Mach, President and Farm Manager of Mach’s Sunny Acres, Inc., about advances in agriculture he can certainly provide you with plenty of perspective. After all, the Mach’s family farm has been around since 1882 and the Mach family has passed along their agricultural heritage and insights. While Ron credits GPS for “making life easier” and providing him with greater efficiencies and productivity, the secret to Mach’s success is simple: a love of farming, shared knowledge, proactively preventing problems and hard work.
What makes Mach’s Sunny Acres unique is its size — the 465-acre farm is run by Ron and his brother Ken. That keeps both brothers very busy. But for Ron, it’s a perfect fit. “I am a very hands-on grower. My motto is not to get bigger, but to get better.” Together, the brothers control their entire farming operation on a daily basis and don many hats — welder, mechanic, planter, harvester, marketer.
The Mach’s grow Red LaSoda, Altantic and Superior seed potatoes, as well as alfalfa, peas, sweet corn, field corn and oats. The non-potato crops are used for crop rotation, providing nitrogen that helps mellow, loosen and improve the soil — making it ideal for growing seed potatoes.
A key factor of farm oversight is pest and disease control. Mach’s Sunny Acres is surrounded by other commercial farms, so they isolate their State Farm seed crops to help prevent disease. They also use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) crop scouting to stay ahead of pest issues.
The greatest challenges Ron faces? Scab disease, which Red LaSodas are particularly vulnerable to, and staying ahead of consumer trends. As a potato seed grower, Ron must look ahead two years and make his best educated guess as to what potato varieties consumers are going to flock to and then provide those seed varieties to growers. Information and networking with others in the potato industry are key to success, he notes.
So far, so good. Most recently, Ron was named the National Potato Council Seed Potato Grower of the Year. The Mach brothers have also made fans of Cuban growers who purchased Mach seed potatoes from a seed grower in New Brunswick, Canada. “Global demand,” notes Mach, “is there.” To help growers expand upon global opportunities, Ron hopes to work with the USPB to make it easier to export seed and commercial potatoes, and to puzzle through the challenges logistics can present. But it’s all in a day’s work for Ron, after all, he notes, “You have to work hard if you want to succeed.”