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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…

box of potatoes

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…

Spud Cleaning 101

Prepping your potatoes for storage depends on smart harvesting and effective cleaning. Everyone knows digging too warm, too cold and too wet are all bad news for long-term storage, as is allowing your tubers to drop and bruise during harvest. However, putting your potatoes into storage in less than clean condition is just as costly in the long run. New cleaning options exist. Here’s a quick recap of what you need to…

Here’s What You Need to Know About Portable and Prescription Temperature Control

Do you remember when strawberries were only available a few months a year? When it was acceptable a case of sweet potatoes weighing 40 pounds at Thanksgiving would shrink to 38 lb. by Christmas, and 30 lb. by Easter? When consumers accepted that “new” potatoes were something time-limited and special? Shockingly, none of these realities were very long ago. What a far way we’ve come in a short number of years. Today,…

Sprout Inhibiting Options Do Exist

It’s no secret why potato sprout inhibiting CIPC is so popular: it’s cheap and it works. That said, the EU’s recent banning of CIPC has caused many North American producers to proactively ask about alternatives. Here’s what’s available to tackle sprouting today. Scientists and companies continue to tinker with ethylene. The work isn’t new: we’ve seen industry trying to make sprout control via ethylene commercially viable for 20-plus years. The main problem…

From Potato Spinners to Touchscreens

With the technology available today, it’s hard to imagine that potato harvesting has ever been anything but efficient. But consider this: humans have cultivated potatoes for about 10,000 years; automated harvest technologies have only developed over the past 150-ish years. That means all our automation has been squeezed into just 1.5 per cent of our relationship with potatoes. But what good use we’ve made of that time! The first major harvest automation…

The Art of Keeping Spuds Comfortable: Today’s Insulation Options

On a frigid, 40-below night in February or a broiling, 30-above day in July, would you feel comfortable having a long nap inside an under-insulated shed? Potatoes don’t either. The good news is that virtually everyone is pushing for more insulation R value today. Spray foam insulation now offers better fire retardant and more food grades than earlier generations of foam. The main change, however, comes in depth. Virtually across all potato…

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