About Jersey Royals
Jersey Royals have been grown on Jersey for over 130 years. Today there are approximately 20 island farmers who grow Jersey Royals, many of whom grow potatoes and no other crops. The potatoes are grown on approximately 16,500 vergees (approx. 7,300 acres).
The Jersey soil is light and well drained and many farmers still
use seaweed harvested from Jersey beaches as a natural fertilizer
(it is known locally as Vraic). Jersey has some of the most
formidable tidal flows in the world, and the strong movement of the
sea deposits large quantities of vraic on the shore. The practice
of using vraic on the land dates back to the 12th century.
The Jersey Royal season begins in November with planting under
glass. The main outdoor crop is planted from January to April
with harvesting from the end of March through to the July. The
peak of the season is May, when up to 1,500 tonnes of Royals can
be exported daily.
Potatoes planted on the early slopes are hand lifted, with
mechanical harvesters used only for the later, flatter fields. The
fields on slopes near the coast - known as côtils - are so steep
that almost all the work is done by hand.
Once harvested, the level of care continues at each
stage. Jersey Royals are checked twice by workers and quality
controllers before being packed and loaded into refrigerated
trailers for export. The potatoes are harvested, graded, packed and
shipped daily to ensure that consumers are buying them when they
are at their freshest and finest.
Besides being unique to Jersey, the Jersey Royal enjoys EU
protection of designation of origin in much the same way that
France was granted sole use of the word 'champagne'. The Protected
Designation of Origin (PDO) is an official recognition granted by
the EU to protect the product as it is produced in its country of
origin. In other words, if a batch of potatoes doesn't have the PDO
it isn't the genuine article.