[Market-farming] root digger implement options

KAKerby at aol.com KAKerby at aol.com
Sun Aug 19 12:34:45 EDT 2012

I'd love to see photos of what you're describing!
I have been looking at some of the other tools that folks have listed so  
far.  Nice to know we have some options, particularly options which don't  
involved big outlays of $$$ and doctorates in mechanical engineering.  Not  
sure which we'll end up with (that toolbar sure would be handy, not only for  
digging but also for cultivation work).  But I'm very pleased to know that  
one way or another, I won't be digging potatoes by hand anymore.  Life's  
too short!
And I will share a little bit of "the rest of the story".  Some folks  will 
recall that we rent land from, and are being mentored by, a wonderful  
elderly farmer whose farm we'd like to buy someday.  This year for a  variety of 
health reasons, he's starting to back off his own farming work, and  he has 
invited us to rent another parcel of the farm next year.  This  expansion 
into root crops would be part of that.  I want to make sure  that if we do 
take him up on that offer, we have all the pieces in place to do a  really 
good job of it.  It's one thing to ask a landowner if we can work  fallow land. 
 It's a whole 'nuther topic to have him invite us to take over  management 
of a parcel he had been actively working.  An honor and  privilege, and an 
opportunity to do some additional things we've wanted to try,  but also 
rather terrifying in terms of living up to that responsibility.
Kathryn Kerby
Snohomish, WA
Ruminations - essays on the farming life at  frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html
In a message dated 8/19/2012 4:56:15 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
vthick43 at gmail.com writes:

We were blessed with family farm that once produced root crops for a  store
and a University.  I have seen these in Vermont but don't know about  other 
places. It is a ground driven potato digger and here there are many left  on
the farm. If anyone wanted me to I could send them a picture. I have on  
works and on for parts, but I use one like it those only PTO driven.  These 
dig any of the root crops you wrote about. 
It has like a 3' nose or flat shovel that goes under the rows(adjustable)  
chain that picks up everything, the chain goes up and out for about 5-6'  
all the soil falls on the ground and the crops fall off the end on top of  
the ground
or in my case Iam making a small wagon to go under the end.  The  carrots 
are harder
to do but it will dig them, they fall through the chain.

On Sun, Aug 19, 2012 at 7:24 AM, Mike Brabo <_mdbrabo at att.net_ 
(mailto:mdbrabo at att.net) > wrote:


After years of back breaking hand digging we switched to an old  fashioned 
potato plow harvester.  We pull it behind a JD755 4WD 20hp  tractor's 3pt 
hitch and it works great.  It takes a few minutes to set  up and get your 
"angle" and speed just right.  

Here's the link to the manufacturer:  

Vesterbrook Farm - Certified Naturally  Grown
Clarksville, Missouri - Mississippi River Bluffs, Zone  5b-6a

On Aug 18, 2012, at 9:34 PM, _KAKerby at aol.com_ (mailto:KAKerby at aol.com)   

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
_frogchorusfarm.com_ (http://frogchorusfarm.com/) 
Snohomish, WA
Ruminations - essays on the farming life at 
_frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html_ (http://frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html) 

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