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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…

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…

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…

10 Quick Ways to Protect Your Investment

There’s nothing worse than seeing the crop you’ve invested all season growing get bruised, nicked or otherwise compromised during harvest. The good news is most handling damage is avoidable. Here are my top tips to ensure your crop comes through harvest in the best possible condition. From ground-opening right through until the potatoes are safely stored or shipped, equipment should be optimized to agitate/bounce/drop/roll tubers the minimum necessary (ie: the minimum amount…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

What Planter Class is Right for Your Operation?

There are a number of reasons potato growers want to invest in a new planter. Some want to take advantage of the new technologies available today, while others are looking for ways to increase their profit margins; some producers want increased service, lower maintenance costs and easier access to parts. Whatever the reason, there is much to consider when it’s time for a new planter. Basically, there are three planter types on…

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