potato harvest

We went potato picking!

In case you did not know, I live in a rural spot surrounded by potato farmers. Yes, right in the french fry capital of the world. Many of the farmers supply a frozen food company, who has requirements they need to meet – not only in terms of volume but also kind of potato and size.

Earlier this week I mentioned when the harvester gang came to do the field across the road. A harvester, a potato truck, a few trucks and cars worth of people, a trailer and a port a potty. It’s a small field – about ten acres. They were done in short order.

So the harvester pulls up the plants, pulls off the taters and spits out the plants and any potatoes that are too small. While this is going on, people sort over the potatoes, chucking any bad one, too crooked ones, or small ones that got missed.

This leaves some potatoes in the field, not enough for the farmers to go back and gather up and (I guess) not enough to bother keeping.

Yesterday we were at one neighbor’s house when another stopped in with a ten pound bag of potatoes. They mentioned they gathered them up from the field (not theirs).

This is expected around here – people know afterwards there are potatoes left and the farmer leaves them, knowing some people will gather them up. As long as you;re not tearing around the field, no one cares.

So we went over tonight after supper. Ron fired up our little tractor and we grabbed 3 buckets and five feeds bags.

It was kind of astounding the amount that is left behind. When we approached the field I asked Meaghan if those were piles of rocks, because that also happens when harvesting – just pile up the rocks. While there were some rocks piles, the rest were potatoes.

We were like kids in candy stores – skipping the busted potatoes that were driven over, the spoilt ones and the really tiny ones, it was very grabby. And kind of shocking.

Even though it is considered waste, we did maybe 3-4 rows, zig zagging back and forth, going a total of maybe 200 yards in, and filled those 5 feed bags. Figure at least 50 pounds each.

I kept shaking my head at how much was left, and thinking how many people it could feed. And that’s not just cutting bad parts off of the taters. There were (and still are) plenty good potatoes there.

I hate to see them go to waste.

The same thing used to happen here before all the fields were turned into homes. Except they didn’t leave many in the field, they gathered they all up, sorted them into sizes and just dumped what didn’t meet the standards. These potatoes were meant for Lay’s so the really big bakers were always left behind. We’d just go dig through the pile and toss them in the bed of the truck. Not many went to waste with help of the community, but I agree that the whole process is wasteful. 🙁