[Market-farming] root digger implement options

MAsteveINE MAsteveINE at 207me.com
Sun Aug 19 00:22:25 EDT 2012

FWIW   Potatoes are dug with a spade which lifts the row and sends the vines one way 
and the potatoes another after sifting out the dirt.
Carrots are harvested by running a coulter or shank on each side of the row and then 
picking up the crop by its tops.
Beets ..red or sugar, are topped in the field and then lifted by concave discs which 
send the crop into devices which load them into trucks.

My favorite books, the books from 1860, which talk of feeding stock on all manor of nutrient produced on the farm
emphasize that what you have is what you should feed. They loved roots, but took the steps to market the
finest part of a crop and feed the lessor quality.

I am thinking it would be interesting to see some fact finding on the callories per acre comparing grains and vegetables.

One thing I know for sure............the cost of labor will be the killer on any small operation; you cant dig 
potatoes with a hoe as cow feed for profit. 


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: KAKerby at aol.com 
  To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org 
  Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2012 10:34 PM
  Subject: [Market-farming] root digger implement options

  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 repairs.

  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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