As a potato producer, the first thought on your mind at harvest is probably “Go!” But this year, you might want to modify this idea slightly to “Go gently.”
Challenging planting conditions caused above-average levels of seed-piece decay in some growing regions, resulting in uneven plant stands. And that means a challenging harvest, given the greater probability of tuber-size variability and maturity. This variability can increase the potential for black spot and shatter bruising and, if the tuber skin breaks, fusarium dry rot. Addressing variability in order to minimize bruising and storage loss will take a special degree of care.
Begin by keeping conveyor belts full. A conveyor that’s uniformly and fully loaded minimizes jostling and bouncing. Adjust the ratio of the harvester’s conveyor speed to ground speed to maintain a uniform flow. Always operate the bin piler at full capacity. And remember to apply this tip to all other conveyors in the yard.
Next, avoid dropping potatoes more than six inches. Pay special attention to drop height when loading trucks in the field, when unloading into the stinger and when piling into the shed.
Training operators and harvest staff on drop heights and conveyor operation can help maintain tuber quality.