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Think Beyond Today

After a decade in the potato storage business, I’ve learned there’s a single piece of advice I can give that, no matter the situation, the operation or the farmer, proves relevant each and every time someone is considering upgrading their storage. It’s this: think beyond today. If you buy yourself a new piece of equipment — a tractor, for example — and realize it’s not quite right for your operation, you have…

The Wow Factor and the Reality of Mobile, Automated Potato Cleaning

If you’re convinced the only way your potato field can, year after year, produce so many rocks is that they must be reproducing underground, you’re not alone. Harvesting rock and debris alongside one’s potatoes is a frustrating and expensive reality of production. Until recently, producers haven’t had good post-harvest handling options. Operating a picking line is costly, inefficient and, as fewer and fewer people are willing to take on menial piece-work, increasingly…

Is Bigger Really Better?

Potato storage today has come a long way from the wooden shed out back older generations remember. Today, improved aeration systems, thicker gauge steel and innovative designs mean companies like ours can easily build potato storage sheds that hold 215,000 hundredweight and stretch 420 feet in length or more. But, is bigger always better? It entirely depends on your priorities. Building a single large, rather than two or more smaller potato storage…

Air Cup Planters: Are They Really So Much Better? (Short Answer: Yes)

Anyone can get potatoes into the ground. If you want to maximize your time, land and in-put efficiency — and ultimately make more money — getting potatoes into the ground quickly and with accurate depth and spacing is critical. The technology that can make all of that happen is an air cup planter. Air cup planters rely on negative (vacuum) pressure to pick up a single seed and positive (air blast) pressure…

Huge Steps Forward in Potato Storage Design and Innovation

Given that technology and innovation are changing every part of agriculture, it’s not surprising that there have been big strides in a potato storage’s design and technology too. We’re now able to build bigger buildings than ever. Over the past 10 years, leading manufacturers have been able to significantly increase the tensile strength (KSI) of steel buildings and build in heavier gauge due to improved manufacturing technology and equipment. Because of the…

Getting Seeding Depth Right: A Farmer’s Perspective

Making time for potato industry conferences and events is a great way to learn from others, gain ideas, and improve your business whether you’re a grower, processor, or a technology supplier like me. At the end of January, I ran into Terrence Bueckert of Beaver Creek Farms at Manitoba Potato Production Days in Brandon. They grow 9,000 acres of crops including 1,000 acres of potatoes near MacGregor in central Manitoba. Because of…

Marketing Potatoes to Today’s Consumers

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the only way to potato farming success is to produce more. While yield is absolutely a priority (and new varieties with higher yield potential and ever-better agronomics are constantly being introduced), building a healthy potato industry into the future depends on marketing higher value product. How? As an entire value chain, we — seed companies and growers, primary producers, processors and retailers —…

Top Tips for Optimal Planting

With the 2019 planting season just around the corner, I’d like to share some of my top planting tips to help you maximize your yields and profits. The success of your potato crop all starts with how well it is planted. Before you fill your planter and head to the field, it’s important to check for worn parts. In addition, make sure opener plows are built up or replaced — this is…

The Customer is Always Right

Over the past few months, we’ve received an increasing number of requests for new and evermore detailed information from our customers. Suddenly, customers are asking for additional pathogen tests (increasingly for diseases not found in our growing areas), highly specific production details, new traceability verifications, and more. We understand: our customers are being pressured by their customers, so they need to push the questions down the value chain to us, their seed…

Let’s Talk Yield Monitoring

I work daily with an awfully smart bunch of farmers and ag suppliers. It takes a team effort to unite technology, data, and good old-fashioned farmer know-how to get the most from a potato field. One of these guys is Western Tractor Company’s precision ag specialist in Burdett, Alta., Joe Bydevaate. I’m always impressed with his insight on yield monitoring, so I thought I’d help him share some here: JB — “Whether…

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