Harvest time

No matter how many years a farmer has been cultivating crops, he will always feel the excitement of harvest time; the moment when it all comes together and he can see how his efforts have paid off. A full two weeks after pulling the potato haulms of their Spunta crop farmer Geluk has picked a dry moment to lift his seed tubers. After a growing period of 115 days his Spunta’s are fully mature. Spunta can be classed as medium late.

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Man & Machine

To lift their seed tubers farmer Geluk is using a complete harvester; the machine not only lifts the potatoes, but also separates them from soil, haulms and stones, if any. As a result of Mr. Geluk's effective soil preparation the ridges in his field contain very few clods.

When using complete harvesters such as these, proper soil preparation, exact planting and sufficient hilling are absolute prerequisites. Fully mechanised harvesting is only possible with a level seed bed in place, and straight and even ridges. Otherwise the harvester would cause more harm than good, with tuber damage posing the greatest risk. This is all the more crucial as only sound tubers with good, undamaged skin can be stored succesfully.

But as in most work environments the all-important factor is the skill of the persons involved. In order not to bruise the potatoes, the operator has to drive with just enough speed to keep the potatoes rolling gently over the webs, taking care not to bump them about. And any experienced farmer will spend more time looking back over his shoulder to focus on the ridges behind him where the action is, rather than looking to the ridges in front that he knows only too well.

From tipper to hopper

After the potatoes have been lifted and separated, they are conveyed directly into an accompanying trailer. The tubers are then transported into Mr. Geluk’s storage, where they are tipped very gently onto a hopper, which serves as a buffer and removes any remaining soil from the crop. The hopper then guides the potatoes onto a conveyor belt where any irregularities such as stones can be picked out. During this whole process farmer Geluk ensures that drop heights are reduced properly to avoid internal bruising and mechanical damage. The tubers then proceed onto another conveyor belt that carefully lowers them into a storage box using an automatic box filler. Yet again great care is taken not to bruise the potatoes.

Spunta 2021!

Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present... Spunta, harvest 2021! For now we can only offer you a short glimpse, as the potatoes will be stored until they are graded. Grading cannot take place before their skin has thickened sufficiently so that the grader will not damage them. Although the tubers still need to be graded, we can safely say that this year's harvest excels in uniformity. The skin quality is also very promising, as the tubers are exceptionally low on common scab.

The ventilation system inside the storage will first dry the tubers using outside air. Ventilation is essential to keep the surface of the potatoes dry and remove excess heat and carbon dioxide. It will also supply the oxygen that the potatoes need to breathe. As ventilation also causes the potatoes to lose water, Mr. Geluk takes care to keep the ventilation hours as low as possible, ventilating sufficiently to keep the potatoes in good shape, but at the same time limiting weight loss due to evaporation. To limit sprout growth and delay the aging of his tubers Mr. Geluk uses diffuse light in his storage.

As the Spunta’s will be exported in the coming months, they will be cooled after they have dried sufficiently, depending on outside temperatures. This will improve their growth vigour and ensure that the tubers will sprout and emerge quickly at planting time.