Last year at this time we were scrambling to harvest our fall potatoes, planted late due to July flooding. Not so this year!
As with many root crops, harvesting can be labor-intensive. If you've ever grown potatoes at home, probably you dug them up with a pitchfork. You dug under the buried treasure of clumps, shook the dirt off, gathered the spuds. Well, we do essentially the same thing at ICF except we have a "potato digger" that is dragged behind a tractor and releases the potatoes. All of our potatoes are harvested in the same way (reds, whites, yellows, sweets.)
The front of the digger is a blade which reaches several inches down to "raise the bed." The potatoes land on a chain conveyor belt on the digger and as they move up the platform, the dirt falls off and back to the ground. The potatoes drop off the back end, to the ground but on top of the beds, and are then gathered later by farm staff or crop mobs! (Thanks to the City Market Crop Mob on September 29, 7,500 lbs of sweet potatoes were picked up. Total haul of sweets: 11,500 lbs.
Sweet potatoes are cured at high heat for several days and then stored for the winter. The other potatoes go into the winter cooler to be distributed during the winter share. We store the potatoes in huge, wooden bulk bins. This year’s harvest: 8,700 lbs of reds, 8,000 lbs of whites, 12,500 lbs of yellows. It might be time to look for new potato recipes!