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Tackling Extreme Weather

In case we needed proof that nature calls the shots, just look to recent weather virtually across our country. Through most of Alberta last summer, heat and extreme dryness frustrated farmers and limited yields of all crops, including dryland potatoes. P.E.I. growers had it even worse: their 2018 season was thwarted first by unusually hot and dry growing conditions, then by harvest-delaying extreme moisture, and then — just as machines could finally…

Plug and Play Technology for Potatoes

There are all kinds of new, innovative technologies hitting the market that strive to make growing and harvesting crops better, faster, less labour intensive, more lucrative. But how do you choose which technologies to invest in and which to let pass you by? You do what farmers have been doing since humans first put seeds in the ground: lean across your fence (or, in this case, the internet) and seek the advice…

So, You Think You’re Up On Today’s Harvest Technology?

If you’ve been in the potato business for any time at all, you probably have an excellent understanding of your own harvesting equipment. However, because growers are often only familiar with what they themselves use, you may not realize how many money- and effort-saving options now exist in harvesting technology. Today’s spade blades come in multiple options (clod, semi-clod, combo, etc.). It goes without saying that the right choice depends on harvest…

We’ve Added 2 Months of Storage Across the Industry — Here’s Why That Matters

One thing is certain: there’s no shortage of demand for quality Canadian potatoes. With processors in Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest expanding and building as we speak, potato inventory demands are on a sharp rise. In fact, I estimate we’ll need many thousands more acres of potato production to keep processors content as they continue to expand. And growth in the industry isn’t just in the form of new builds:…

Hydraulic Harvester: Luxury or Necessity?

The biggest single improvement in harvesters in the past few decades is full hydraulic control, available only over the past handful of years. Should you be considering making a switch? On a conventional machine, speeding up tractor RPM translates to faster PTO revolution and, consequently, faster movement of every element of the harvester. In ideal conditions, optimal tractor speed matches optimal table shaking and conveyor speeds. More often than not, however, tractor…

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…

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