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Chipper and Fry Potato Producers Feeling COVID-19 Pain

I suppose it could be worse — we who work in agriculture are blessed to be weathering the coronavirus pandemic from the relative comfort and space of farms rather than from tiny apartments in urban high-rises. Still, there’s no getting around the fact everyone is hurting from the direct and/or indirect impacts of the outbreak, and it’s clear the costs are only starting to be realized. Processed potato producers, in particular, are…

Potato plants growing in a field

Air-Cup seeders offer front-of-season savings and end-of-season premiums

Considering a new or new-to-you potato planter? Here’s the pros and cons for the most common styles available today: Pick Planters The oldest form of potato planting technology is pick-based planting. Pick planters operate by stabbing potato seed and then dropping it into the trench. While spacing is based off the size of the pick wheel, at times, it may not be as accurate as newer styles of planters. The trick with…

A pile of potatoes

1,4DMN: the key to stabilized dormancy and uniform emergence in seed potatoes

Due to the heat/cold/wet stress many potatoes endured during last fall’s harvest, a lot of stored potatoes are likely to be pushing sprouts sooner than usual this year. While processing and table stock growers have several sprout suppressing options, seed potato growers have exactly one product available to enhance dormancy. Luckily, it’s an effective one. 1,4 Seed is the only registered dormancy enhancer available for use in seed potatoes. It is formulated…

A pile of potatoes

Sprouting: an unnecessary hit to your wallet

I’ve heard growers say, literally countless times, “They’re just little sprouts. They aren’t a big deal.” While it’s true that processors will often accept sprouts up to 1.5 inches, sprouting is actually a big – and unnecessary – deal. Whereas a dormant potato tuber is nature’s ideal moisture storage mechanism, each sprout leaks moisture. The math is simple: less moisture = less weight = less money. As such, any grower who wants…

606 S-Series Air Cup

Successful Farmers Know “An Ounce of Prevention…”

Functional, well-maintained equipment can make the difference between farming success and enormously costly misses, breakdowns and losses. In the more than 35 years I’ve spent in the equipment business, I’ve found most farmers do a decent job of prepping their planters, harvesters and other equipment for winter storage, and of greasing, tuning and maintaining their machines prior to use the next season. However, don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. I’ve…

Want More Productivity for Less Cost? Get Mobile

As farmers know better than most, necessity really is the mother of invention. For years, farmers have jimmy-rigged and retrofitted mobility onto non-mobile potato cleaning equipment, both to share equipment between yards and to clean tubers in-field to reduce the cost of transporting tare. The downside of moving machines that aren’t built to move is that parts get beat up and worn out in the process, reducing equipment’s functional lifespan. Now, companies…

Fully grown potatoes poking out of the dirt

How Will Overlooking the Storage Season Cost You?

There are two seasons in potato production: the growing season and the storage season. Each need ongoing attention and management; each can make or break your final returns. I see growing season as the forward line on a hockey team, putting points on the scoreboard, and storage season as the goalie, protecting from loss. Each is critical to the final outcome of the crop production game. This year, storage season is going…

Is Transporting Tare Picking your Pocket?

Ask any potato producer where rocks belong and they’ll vehemently tell you: “Not in my field.” While that’s true, they also don’t belong in your yard. Since the very first harvesters dug their way through potato fields some decades ago, farmers have been transporting rocks, dirt and harvest debris back to their storage yards, then either leaving this tare in piles in the yard or driving it back out to the fields….

Show Your Harvester Some Love

It’s been a tough harvest for many North American potato farmers. In my neck of the woods (northern North Dakota), August’s drought turned into rain that wouldn’t quit through September and then unseasonably frigid temperatures and deep snow just as harvest was ready to get rolling in October. Conditions have been changeable and challenging from Alberta through Manitoba, and Washington through Wisconsin. Difficult harvest conditions aren’t only hard on farmers; they’re hard…

Are Your Potatoes Old Before their Time?

Potatoes are nature’s perfect energy storage capsules: ideally designed to withstand a period of dormancy and then burst into life as the next growing season approaches. For thousands of years, humans have benefitted from tubers’ unique dormancy adaptation. In the last 50 years, we’ve figured out how to benefit even more by expanding on nature’s design: now we produce tubers by the thousands of hundredweight; then manage them in storage for months…

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