A seed producer from Meikle Wartle has been named as the winner of the 2016 British Potato Industry Award.
Jim Cruickshank OBE, one of the most well respected seed producers in the UK, is the 20th winner of the prestigious honour.
The award is presented to individuals for their outstanding contribution to the industry.
Announcing the winner at this year’s Seed Industry Event in St Andrew’s, AHDB Potatoes Strategy Director, Rob Clayton, said: “Jim Cruickshank is held in extremely high regard by all of his colleagues in the potato industry, both for his skills as a farmer and his efforts to safeguard the sector through work with industry bodies and researchers on potato health and quality.
“He is an incredibly deserving recipient of the British Potato Industry Award.”
Jim was brought up on a mixed farm in Aberdeenshire with five siblings, all of whom were keen to pursue a career in agriculture.
Jim initially had a different plan, completing a degree in maths before returning to the University of Aberdeen to study agriculture.
After he graduated in 1977 Jim purchased a 150 acre farm in Meikle Wartle with 30 acres dedicated to seed potatoes.
After a few years that increased to 70 acres and since the 1990s he has been growing 250-300 acres of early generation seed.
He produces seed for further multiplication by other commercial producers and believes it’s his relationship with his customers which is key to his success.
Even the most energetic of potato growers eventually turn their attention to succession planning and Jim is now working with his eldest daughter Sarah.
Like her dad Sarah originally pursued a rather different career path, spending 14 years as an oboeist, but she too has been won over by the potato world.
Jim is passionate when he talks about the potato industry, about research, about crop health, about anything to do with farming, but he is less comfortable talking about himself.
He said: “I’m aware of the many great people who have won this award before me, and I am honoured to be in their company.”