[Market-farming] root digger implement options

KAKerby at aol.com KAKerby at aol.com
Sat Aug 18 22:34:47 EDT 2012

We are considering expanding our root crops next year, for livestock  
feeding purposes.  When I say "root crops" I generally mean potatoes,  mangels, 
rutabagas, parsnips and/or large turnips.  Maybe some of the  larger carrot 
varieties, but these will definitely be for livestock feed, not  for market.  
So "pretty" isn't important.  But harvesting them quickly  and 
cost-effectively is very important.
The last time I planted potatoes, I spent what seemed like the next three  
years manually harvesting them.  The first harvest was to get them out of  
the ground that October, and it seemed to take forever.  But we had  
volunteers coming up for several years later, which tells me that I really  didn't 
do a good job digging them up manually.  It was such a distasteful  job the 
first time around I swore I'd never grow them again other than for  
occasional home use.  But now here we are, thinking how nice it would be to  be able 
to grow them on a larger scale, IF we can figure out how to harvest them  
more effectively.
I Googled "potato digger" and got a wide variety of implements,  ranging 
from black-and-white photos of what Grandpa used "back in the  day", to shiny 
new looks-about-the-right-size imported from China, to  industrial-sized 
monsters that could eat my house.  I'm looking for an  implement that will 
efficiently harvest a wide variety of root crops, be  small enough to pull 
behind a 20hp tractor with Class 1 three-pt hitch, large  enough to comfortably 
harvest a few acres of any given kind of root crop,  without costing the 
amount of a small country's yearly operating budget.   Oh, and since we're 
fantasizing here, it should be readily available on the  used market for 
not-very-much-money, with easy-to-find replacement parts, and be  simple enough that 
we can service in our own workshop or hire a local skilled  mechanic, 
rather than exporting it back to whatever was its distant  country-of-origin for 
Any suggestions as to make/model/manufacturer?  And if my fantasy  machine 
doesn't exist, what are my options from amongst the tools that do  exist?  
Thanks all.......
Kathryn Kerby
Snohomish, WA
Ruminations - essays on the farming life at  frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html
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