Team Harvest: Potatoes!

July 30th, 2019

We spend 5 days a week harvesting in the month of July. Usually that means splitting into teams and spreading out all over the farm. However, there are a few crops that require a team effort. Here's how we harvest potatoes.


Melissa briefs the team on the process and splits the crew up into pairs. It's a great day for harvesting potatoes. It rained a few days before so the soil is not too hard. However, the previous day of dry weather ensures the potatoes won't be muddy when we pick them out.


Faster than digging with forks, the tractor pulls a plow to uproot the plants and bring the soil and spuds up to the surface.


We work in teams picking potatoes, filling crates, loading them onto the wagon, and doing it all again. Though the tractor took a significant load, we still need to comb thru the dirt to find the potatoes trying their best to hide.

..and go again.

One pass is not enough. From our digging, we can see that there are more stuck potatoes. The tractor tries again from a different angle. Trying to get more to the right or left of the potatoes will help to unearth more and save our hands from digging too much.

For every team that's picking there's another group behind digging to make sure we didn't miss any surfaced potatoes. These "sweepers" need a good eye and a bit of patience.

In our final field step we do some hand plowing. This is a quick way to see if we need another pass on the tractor, or if we can get the rest by hand. Faster than hand digging, but riskier as well, using a tool may catch and cut some of the potatoes.

At this stage the potatoes have a very fragile skin. We'll only knock off enough dirt to remove trapped moisture. We'll leave some of the dirt on to help with storage.

As the wagon fills up it's time to sort the whole potatoes from the splits. Luckily, our split count was low this season. Good job tractor driver!

Craig makes room for more. We've got rows and rows to go. We'll get as much as we can in 3 hours before calling it quits for the day. We've still got plenty of other crops to get to.

It's good to have a team!