Title: Mechanical harvesting and bulk handling of potatoes in Florida and Alabama
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Title: Mechanical harvesting and bulk handling of potatoes in Florida and Alabama
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Full Text

January, 1954


AFR 26 1954
Agr. Econ. Series No. 54-10


MECHANICAL HARVESTING AND BULK HANDLING

OF POTATOES IN FLORIDA AND ALABAMA

PRELIMINARY REPORT BASED ON OBSERVATIONS DURING THE
1952 AND 1953 SEASONS



by
R. E. L. Greene, L. J. Kushman,
J. S. Norton and H. C. Spurlock


Agricultural Economist, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Gainesville, Florida,
Associate Plant Physiologist, Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils and Agricultural Engineer-
ing, United States Department of Agriculture, Assistant Agricultural Engineer and Field
Assistant, respectively, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Gainesville, Florida.


Two row direct harvester loading potatoes in bulk.


DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS,
FLORIDA AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, IN COOPERATION WITH
BUREAU OF PLANT INDUSTRY, SOILS AND
AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE








TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 2

SUMMARY 3

INTRODUCTION 4

SYSTEMS FOR HARVESTING AND HANDLING POTATOES 5
Digging and Picking-Up by Hand into Field Containers 5
Direct Mechanical Harvesting with Potatoes Placed in
Small Containers Bags or Boxes 5
Mechanical Harvesting with Bulk Handling 7
Direct Harvesting 7
Indirect Harvesting 7
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Two Methods 7

USE OF MECHANICAL HARVESTING AND HANDLING EQUIPMENT IN
FLORIDA AND ALABAMA 10

COST OF HARVESTING AND HANDLING POTATOES 10
Cost of Bulk Handling of Potatoes in Field Bags 11
Cost of Harvesting Potatoes with a One-Row Bagger Type
Mechanical Harvester 1h
Comparison of Cost of Harvesting and Handling Potatoes
with Mechanical Harvesters and Bulk Equipment and
in the Usual Way 16
Purchase price, estimated life and average cost of
operating potato harvesting equipment 18
Comparison of cost 18

INJURIES TO POTATOES 22
Damage in Sebago Potatoes Handled in Bulk from the
Field to the Packinghouse 23
Damage in Potatoes Harvested with Mechanical Harvesters
and Handled in Bulk Equipment 23
Place where injuries occurred 24
Reduction of Injuries 29

ELIMINATION OF CLODS, VINES, AND TRASH 31

PROBLEMS AND SUGGESTIONS 31
Selection of Equipment 33
Coordinating Use of Equipment with Packinghouse
Operations 33
Operation and Management of Equipment 34
Windrowing 34
Harvesting 35
Bulk Handling Equipment 35
Receiving Conveyors at the Packinghouse 37
Miscellaneous 37










Page
Reducing Injuries to Potatoes 37
Digger blade cuts 37
Damage due to windrowing and picking up 39
Damage on the harvester and in bulk loading 39
Damage in unloading and conveying to the washer 39
Safety 41

APPENDIX 42




ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Many agencies and individuals have given valuable assistance in this
study. It is impossible to name all who cooperated. Special recog-
nition is due to Mr. A. H. Glaves of the Division of Farm Machinery,
Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering, United
States Department of Agriculture for his cooperation and helpful
suggestions and for reviewing the manuscript. Mr. W. N. Garrott of
the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, United States Department of
Agriculture, assisted in collecting the cost data in Alabama*
Appreciation is expressed to the farmers and packinghouse operators
for cooperation in obtaining data on cost and operation of the equip-
ment. Special thanks are also due to the various machinery manufac-
turers and their representatives for their interest and cooperation.
Without the help of all of these this study would not have been
possible.






Report of a study in which certain phases were carried on under
the Research and Marketing Act of 1946.



This study was carried out as a part of Southern Regional
Project SM 5, "Marketing Early Irish Potatoes." This project is
conducted in cooperation.with the Agricultural Experiment Stations
of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, Bureau of Agri-
cultural Economics and Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agri-
cultural Engineering of the United States Department of Agriculture.







SUMMARY


A research study was conducted to obtain information on the operation of
mechanical harvesting and handling equipment in Florida and Alabama during
1953. Data were obtained on the number of harvesters, amount of use, cost
of harvesting, amount of physical damage in potatoes harvested and handled
mechanically and some of the problems associated with this method of handling.

Some of the results of this work are as follows:
1. The use of a field loader and bulk trucks to handle potatoes from the
field to the washer proved to be a very satisfactory method for handling
Sebago potatoes for two farmers in the Hastings area. On one farm, where
this method of hauling was used entirely, the direct and indirect saving
amounted to 1.3 cents per 100 pound packed bag. Tests showed that only
0.2 percent major damage and 1.7 percent minor damage was added to the
potatoes in bulk loading in the field and unloading at the packinghouse.

2. Two farmers in the Hastings area who used one-row harvesters that placed
the potatoes in bags estimated the cost of digging, picking up and deliver-
ing the potatoes to the packinghouse at 21.63 cents per 100 pound packed
bag on a crop with an estimated yield of 150 bags per acre. This was a
saving of about 7 cents per bag or $10*50 per acre over the cost for
farmers digging with a conventional digger and contracting the picking-up
and hauling.

3. Farmers in Alabama who dug with mechanical equipment and hauled their
potatoes in bulk usually had one harvester and three bulk bodies. The
total investment in mechanical equipment varied from $6,000 to $8,500
depending on the make of equipment, method of harvesting and other factors
The rate of harvesting for a harvester was about .8 acre or 175 bushels
per hour. Data from these farmers indicated the cost of digging and
delivering the potatoes to the washer was about 29 cents per 100 pound
packed bag on a crop that yielded 120 bags per acre. This was about 10
cents per graded bag less than for farmers who dug and handled their
potatoes in the conventional way* Increasing the amount harvested per
hour with mechanical equipment had a marked effect in decreasing cost.
On one farm where the estimated rate of harvesting was 573 bushels per
hour per machine, the estimated cost per packed bag was 13.90 cents or
less than half of the cost on the average farm.

4. In both Florida and Alabama potatoes harvested with mechanical equipment
had slightly more physical damage than those harvested and handled in the
conventional way. In Alabama, for the direct method of harvesting, of
the total damage in the potatoes at time of washing 60 percent occurred
on the harvester, 18 percent in loading the bulk bodies and 22 percent
in unloading and conveying to the washer. In the indirect method of
harvesting about 30 percent of the total damage was done in windrowing,
34 percent on the harvester, 12 percent in loading the potatoes in bulk
and 24 percent in unloading and conveying the potatoes to the washer*

5* The amount of physical damage in potatoes harvested and handled with mech-
anical equipment can be substantially reduced if the operators will use
more care in operating the equipment and if the packinghouses are set up
to properly handle potatoes in bulk, Manufacturers should give more atten-
tion to making needed improvements and providing more protection on the
equipment. Reducing the distance the potatoes are dropped from one con-
veyor to another, padding points of severe impact and using rubber tubing
on chain links will do much to reduce damage.
-3-







MECHANICAL HARVESTING AND BULK HANDLING OF POTATOES IN
FLORIDA AND ALABAMA

(Preliminary report based on observations during the 1952 and 1953 seasons)



Introduction

Rapid progress has been made in improving mechanical potato harvesting
and handling equipment. The use of such equipment is increasing throughout
the country. In some areas much of the crop is being harvested and handled
mechanically. For example, it is estimated that in the Red River Valley of
Minnesota and North Dakota more than half of the crop was handled with
mechanical harvesters during the 1952 season.

Potato growers are mechanizing the harvesting and handling of potatoes
in order to: (1) reduce the cost of harvesting and handling, (2) reduce
the amount of labor and the arduous nature of the work, (3) increase the
capacity of equipment and facilities, and (4) improve the handling of the
potatoes and thus increase the general quality and salability of the crop.

Mechanical harvesting and handling equipment is now being introduced
in the Southeast. The use of such equipment will have a tremendous impact
on the potato industry in this area. Both producers and packers are observ-
ing its use with an intense interest. They are asking such questions as:
What are the methods of harvesting and handling potatoes mechanically?
What are some of the problems associated with this method of handling? How
does the cost of harvesting and handling potatoes mechanically compare with
the usual method? How does the quality of potatoes harvested mechanically
compare with the quality of potatoes harvested by the conventional method?

In order to obtain data of the nature indicated, preliminary observa-
tions were made on the use of mechanical potato harvesters in Florida and
Alabama in the Spring of 1952.1/ A regional research project was begun in
1953* Work in 1952 was mostly observational in nature and only a limited
amount of data were obtained. Data were obtained in 1953 on the number of
harvesters and amount of use, rates of performance, cost of harvesting,
amount of physical damage in potatoes harvested and handled with mechanical
equipment, some of the problems associated with this method of handling and
what can be done to reduce or eliminate these obstacles.

This report presents some preliminary results of this work. Because
of the small number of harvesters in operation at present and the limited
acreage harvested, generalizations based on data obtained so far are
necessarily limited. Some of the material presented is based on the ideas
and experiences that farmers have gained from the use of the machines to
date. Their ideas may change as they gain more experience. However, be-
cause of the intense interest of farmers and others in the Southeast in the
possibilities of mechanical potato harvesting it is believed these data will
be of considerable value at this time even though they are preliminary and
subject to change.

1/ A trip was also made to the Red River Valley in the fall of 1952 to
observe the operation of mechanical equipment in that area.
-4-







SYSTEMS FOR HARVESTING AND HANDLING POTATOES


Many types of equipment have been developed for harvesting and handling
potatoes. Some are suited for one set of conditions and some for another.
This makes it necessary for the farmer to decide which types of equipment are
best suited to his needs and to fit them into a system for handling his
potatoes. Frequently farmers mechanize only a part of their harvesting
before they adopt complete mechanical harvesting and bulk handling of
potatoes* In selecting equipment a grower should keep this in mind since
equipment selected for one system might be used later in another system.

Four different methods are being used for harvesting and handling pota-
toes in Florida and Alabama. A brief description of each method is given.


Digging and Picking-Up by Hand into Field Containers

In this system the potatoes are placed on top of the row with a one
or a two row mechanical digger. They are picked up by hand and placed in
field containers--bags or boxes. Two methods are used in handling the
potatoes from the field to the packinghouse. In the first method the field
containers are loaded by hand onto flat-bed trucks to be hauled from the
field and are unloaded manually at the packinghouse.

In the second method, a field elevator (Fig. 1) is used to load the
potatoes in bulk into bodies on trucks or trailers to be hauled to the
packing shed. Most growers use special bodies that are hopper shaped and
have draper chain (rod conveyors) or rubber belt conveyors in the bottom
which are used for unloading the potatoes at the packinghouse (Fig. 2).

The field elevators/ are draper chain elevators mounted on wheels.
They have a hopper at the bottom into which the potatoes are emptied to be
conveyed into the bulk bodies. They may be either attached to the side of
the truck and pulled by the truck or pulled along beside the truck by a
tractor. If the elevator is pulled by the truck, power for operating the
elevator is supplied by a small auxiliary motor. The elevator is operated
by a power take-off if it is tractor drawn.

Bulk handling of potatoes picked up by hand reduces the amount and the
strenuous nature of the labor required for loading and unloading the field
containers. In addition, the rate of flow of potatoes onto the grading
equipment can be more easily regulated than when they are handled in field
containers (Fig. 3).


Direct Mechanical Harvesting with Potatoes Placed
in Small Containers Bags or Boxes

A third system of harvesting is to place the potatoes directly in bags
or boxes as they are dug. This is done with a machine that combines the

2/ In Alabama and Florida, potatoes in field bags have been loaded in the
bulk bodies by means of elevators. There are field loaders in use in
other sections that elevate the bags of potatoes from the ground level
to above the side of the bulk bodies where the bags are dumped and the
potatoes conveyed in the bulk bodies with an elevator similar to those
used on mechanical harvesters.







-6-


Fig. 1.- Field loader used in bulk-loading potatoes picked up in field containers.


Fig. 2.- Interior of bulk body. Note that boards are placed over conveyor before potatoes are
placed in the body. They are removed as the load is unloaded to allow the potatoes to
roll down on the conveyor chain.









operations of digging, sorting and placing the potatoes into containers.
Vines, trash, clods and other undesirable material are removed mechanically
and by people who ride on the machine. The potatoes are passed over a
sorting table which may be in the form of a belt, chain or multiple rollers.
They are placed into containers as they come off the sorting table. The
containers are usually set off on the ground but may be accumulated on a
platform and carried to the end of the row.

Placing the potatoes in small containers as they are dug saves only a
small amount of labor. However, the work is less strenuous and it makes
possible the use of labor that might not otherwise work in the potato
harvest. It also has the advantage that it does not affect the handling of
the potatoes from the field to the packinghouse.


Mechanical Harvesting with Bulk Handling

Complete mechanical harvesting and bulk handling are accomplished by
the use of mechanical equipment to dig the potatoes and load them in bulk
onto trucks or trailers. The trucks or trailers are usually equipped with
hopper boxes as described above. Two methods are in general use.

Direct Harvesting: In this method the potatoes are dug by a harvester,
and after elimination of vines, clods, and trash, they are conveyed in bulk
onto a truck or trailer to be hauled from the field (see cover page). The
digging, sorting and loading are all done in one continuous operation. The
harvester may dig either one or two rows, may be self propelled or tractor-
mounted or may be a trailer type pulled behind a two-row digger.

Indirect Harvesting: The potatoes are dug with a standard two-row
digger using a windrowing attachment that places the two rows together in a
shallow furrow (Fig. h and 5). The potatoes are picked from the window by
an indirect harvester (Fig. 6) and after elimination of vines, clods and
trash are loaded in bulk onto trucks or trailers. In picking the potatoes up
out of the window, the digger blade is removed and the potatoes are picked
up by the movement of the digger chain.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Two Methods: The choice of method
of harvesting is affected by equipment available, type of operator, soil
types, marketing program and harvesting conditions. The quality of work done
by either method depends more on careful operation of the equipment than on
the method used. Potatoes harvested by the direct method are in the ground
one minute and in the truck the next. Potatoes harvested by the indirect
method may be left in the window for a short period to dry before the har-
vester picks them up. It is claimed that the drying helps in eliminating
clods, soil and trash under extremely adverse conditions caused by wet weather,
heavy soils and heavy weed growth. It is also argued that the drying of the
potatoes helps to set the skins. However, one danger of leaving the potatoes
in the window in the Southeast is that the warm and dry conditions that
usually prevail at harvest time rather quicklycauses desiccation injury
(scald spots) at skinned areas. There is also an opportunity for heat injury.
The indirect method has the disadvantage of requiring another tractor,
tractor driver, and a digger equipped for windrowing.







-8-


Fig. 3.- Unloading potatoes handled in bulk at the packinghouse. In this case the potatoes fall
on an endless belt. Rate of unloading can be controlled by lifting the motor so as to dis-
engage the belt at the pulley.


Fig. 4.- Digger with window attachment mounted on left side of two-row digger. Note the drag
usedfor making a wide, flat furrow in which potatoes fall.




-9-


Fig. 5.- Windowing potatoes for the indirect method of harvesting.


ilk


Fig. 6.- An indirect harvester loading potatoes in bulk.






-10-


USE OF MECHANICAL HARVESTING AND HANDLING EQUIPMENT
IN FLORIDA AND ALABAMA

Mechanical harvesters were first used in Florida and Alabama to an
appreciable extent on a commercial basis in 1952.3/ During that season three
one-row farmer-built machines that placed potatoes in bags were used by two
farmers in the Hastings area. In Alabama there were six commercially built
one-row, three two-row and a trailer-type two-row harvester. All of the
machines except the trailer-type harvester and two of the one-row machines
were operated as direct harvesters which placed the potatoes in bags. Pota-
toes from the other machines were handled in bulk trucks. One farmer used a
field loader and bulk trucks to handle the potatoes from the field to the
packinghouse. One manufacturer also operated a two-row direct machine on a
demonstration basis in both states. No estimates were obtained on acres
harvested during the 1952 season.

During the 1953 season about 825 acres of potatoes were harvested in
Florida with three farmer-built one-row machines that placed the potatoes in
bags and with three two-row machines that placed the potatoes in field boxes.
One manufacturer harvested about 300 acres of potatoes on a custom basis
using direct harvesters and hopper-box trucks, Two growers in the Hastings
area used a field loader and hopper-box trucks to handle about 500 acres of
potatoes in bulk from the field to the packing shed. These potatoes were dug
and picked up in the conventional manner.

About 2,050 acres, or six percent of the commercial crop, were harvested
with mechanical equipment in Alabama in 1953. Six farmer-owned two-row
machines operated by the direct method and six one-row machines operated by
the indirect method were used to harvest 1,700 acres. One company operated
several machines by the direct method on a custom or purchase contract basis
to harvest 350 acres. All of the potatoes harvested with harvesters were
handled with bulk equipment except about 25 acres that were harvested with a
two-row machine which placed the potatoes in field bags.


COST OF HARVESTING AND HANDLING POTATOES

Data were obtained in Florida on the cost of hauling potatoes from the
field to the packinghouse when a field loader and hopper-box trucks were used
and on the cost of harvesting with one-row machines that placed the potatoes
in bags. Data were obtained from farmers in Alabama on the cost of harvest-
ing and handling potatoes with complete mechanical equipment on eight units.4/
Data were also obtained on the cost of harvesting potatoes by the usual method

3/ Two farmers in the Hastings area built a one-row home-made harvester in
1945. They have used harvesters since that time making numerous changes
in them. They now have three home-made harvesters. Commercial manu-
facturers also have used their machines in areas of Alabama and Florida
during the last five years on an experimental and demonstration basis.
4/ Several of the mechanical harvesters that operated in Alabama were
share-owned by two or more operators who were related in most cases.
In this study the potatoes harvested by a set of equipment were considered
as a unit.






-11-


on 30 farms in order to compare the costs of harvesting by machine and in the
usual way.5/

Items included in calculating cost for the various methods were labor,
use of equipment, power and truck costs and miscellaneous items such as
picking containers and field bags. Labor was charged at the prevailing rate
in the area based on the estimates of the amount required. If an operation,
such as picking up and hauling, was done on a "piece" basis the contract rate
was used.

The charge for potato harvesting equipment included both fixed and direct
costs. Depreciation was based on the farmers estimated (actual service) life
of the equipment. No salvage value was assumed at the end of the use period.
This was seven years for commercially built mechanical harvesters and 10
years for bulk bodies. A charge of one percent for insurance, three percent
for interest and one percent for taxes was made on the purchase cost of the
equipment to cover the expense of these items. Repairs and operating costs
were based on the estimates of growers.

Tractor and truck use (except when on a contract basis) was charged at a
flat per hour rate based on the estimated use. Tractor use was charged at 75
cents per hour for small tractors, 85 cents for medium size tractors and $1.00
per hour for large tractors. Truck use was charged at $1.50 per hour plus the
wage of the driver. Miscellaneous items were charged at their estimated cost.


Cost of Bulk Handling of Potatoes in Field Bags

This method was used by two farmers in the Hastings area in 1953. One
farmer handled only a part of his crop in this way as he used a combination
of bulk and regular trucks. The data on cost cover only one case and are for
the farmer who handled all of his crop in bulk from the field to the packing-
house. This farmer operates his own packinghouse and packs mainly for himself.
Before the 1953 season, the packinghouse was remodeled for bulk handling of
potatoes. One field loader, three hopper type boxes and two electric motors
were purchased. The field loader was the type pulled by a tractor.

During the 1953 season potatoes from 295 acres, including some dug for a
neighbor, were loaded and handled by this method. The estimated rate of
harvesting for the season was 16 acres in nine hours, or 1.78 acres per hour.
The average yield was 306 field bags or 174 one hundred pound packed bags per
acre. The average rate of grading was 546 field bags or 310 packed bags per
hour. An average of 1.76 field bags was required to pack out a 100 pound
bag. It required about 225 field bags of potatoes to load a bulk body.

Even though the potatoes were handled in bulk the hauling was contracted
on a "piece" basis. The hopper bodies were placed on trucks furnished by the
contractor. The contractor furnished six people including himself; two
drivers for the trucks, three men to dump the field bags in the loader and

/5 For a description of methods of harvesting in 1948 and 1949 in the
Southeast refer to "Marketing Southeastern Early Irish Potatoes" by
J. M. Johnson and L. J. Kushman, Virginia Agricultural Experiment
Station, Southern Cooperative Series (in preparation).






-12-


one man to drive the tractor that pulled the bulk loader. The farmer fur-
nished a man to unload the trucks at the packing shed and laborers for pick-
ing out trash. On this farm in 1953 only nine people were used to handle
the potatoes from the field to the packing shed and place them on the convey-
or that took them to the washer (Table 1 Appendix). Fifteen people were used
to do this same job in 1952. In addition, two less people were used on the
grading table in 1953 because the flow of potatoes could be controlled and
varied more readily with bulk equipment as the quality changed.

The investment in the field loader, hopper-type boxes and two motors was
$2,924 (Table 1). The farmer estimated the life of the equipment to be 10
years and annual repairs $100. The estimated annual cost of operating the

Table 1.- Purchase Price, Estimated Life and Cost of Operating Field Loader
and Hopper Type Boxes Used by One Farmer at Hastings, Florida, 1953.

: Field : Hopper boxes
Item : loader : and motors : Total

Purchase cost and life:
Purchase cost $ 905 $2,019 $2,924
Estimated life (year)l/ 10 10

Annual cost of operating:
Repairs/ $ 50 $ 50 $ 100
Depreciation -e PF -96E oa 292
Insurance, interest and taxes/ -4g)A -45-/o6 146

Total /1S -18 353 538

Cost per acre:4/
Repairs .17 .17 .34
Depreciation -.68-.31 .-it-d, .99
Insurance, interest and taxes/ --34-. 1" --1.34 .49

Total 63 -3-/.19 1.82
1/ Estimated (actual service) life, taking account of seasonal operation.


Assuming no salvage value at end of use period.
Estimated cost.
Insurance 1 percent, interest 3 percent and taxes 1 percent
price.
Based on 295 acres harvested.


of purchase


equipment was $538 or $1.82 per acre if prorated over the 295 acres on which
it was used in 1953. The farmer paid the contractor 4.25 cents per field bag
to load and haul the potatoes. The total cost of hauling and handling the
potatoes to the washer was 5.41 cents per field bag, or 9.5 cents per 100
pound packed bag (Table 2).

At a contract rate of 4.25 cents per field bag for hauling, the farmer
was paying a high rental for the use of the trucks. If it is assumed that the






-13-


Table 2.- Cost per Acre and per Unit of Loading, Hauling and Handling Potatoes
from the Field to the Washer with Bulk Equipment Used by One Farmer
at Hastings, Florida, 1953.

: Average per acrel/ : Cost per unit
Item : t : :Per 100 pound : Per field
:Amount: Unit Rate : Cost : packed bag/ : bag2/
cents dollars cents cents
Loading and Hauling:
Man labor and
truck rental 306 field 4.25 13.01 7.47 4.25
bag
Use of tractor .56 hr. 75 .42 .24 -.14
Cost of equipment_/ 1.82 1.05 .60

Total 15.25 8.76 4.99

Unloading and handling to washer:
Unloading .56 hr. 90 .45 .26 .15
Removing trash 1.12 hr. 75 .84 .48 *27

Total 1.29 .74 .42

Total Cost 16.54 9.50 5$41

1/ Based on a rate of harvesting of 16 acres in nine hours.
2/ Based on a yield of 174 100 pound packed bags per acre.
3/ Based on a yield of 306 field bags per acre.
U/ From table 1.

labor furnished by the contractor was worth $1.00 per hour, the contractor was
receiving $17 per hour or $153 per day for his supervision and the use of the
three trucks. If the trucks had been owned and charged at $1.50 per hour and
the labor furnished by the contractor at $1.00 per hour, the cost of hauling
and handling the potatoes from the field to the washer would have been 3.08
cents per field bag rather than 5.l1 cents (Table 2 Appendix). The difference
of 2.33 cents probably represents the profit made by the contractor.6/

There was a direct saving of .55 cent per packed bag and an indirect
saving of .77 cent from the use of bulk equipment (Table 3). This was 1.32
cents per packed bag, or $2.30 per acre. Although the cost of hauling,
including a charge for the tractor and the bulk equipment, was about the same
as the contract rate of 5 cents per field bag paid in 1952, two less men were
used in the packing shed in dumping the field bags on the conveyor to the
washer. There was an indirect saving in that only about half as many field
bags were used as there was less wear and tear due to a reduction in handling.
About $50 was saved in not having to clean sand out of the ditches in which
the wash water was dumped as the sand was left in the field when the bags

6/ It is recognized that the farmer would not have made this saving if he
had owned the trucks and would not have had use for them except during
the potato harvest. In this case the cost of operating may have been
greater than that paid the contractor.






-14-


were dumped in the field loader. The operator also said two less graders were
used since the volume of potatoes going on the grader could be controlled much
better with the bulk trucks than with the usual method. This made it possible
to vary the volume to be graded as the quality changed so that fewer people
were required to do the job.


Table 3.- Comparison of Cost and Savings for'Hauling and Handling Potatoes
by Usual Method and with Bulk Equipment, Farm A, Hastings, Florida,
1953.

: Amount per 100 pound packed bag
Item : Usual : Bulk :
: method : equipment : Savings
cents cents cents
Direct cost and savings:
Hauling (labor, truck rental and
equipment use) 8.79 8,76 .03
Unloading or dumping .78 .26 *52
Removing trash .48 .8 -

Total 10.05 9.50 55

Indirect savings:
Use of two less graders @ 90 cents per hour .52
Cost of removing sand from ditches *10
Use of fewer field bags .15

Total .77

Total Savings 1.32


Cost of Harvesting Potatoes With A One-Row Bagger Type
Mechanical Harvester

Two farmers in the Hastings area have harvested their entire potato crop
the last several years with three one-row harvesters that they built on their
farm. These machines differ from present commercial harvesters in that they
are carried on two wheels and are reasonably close coupled to the tractor so
that they are easy to turn on the narrow "headlands" in that area. Power is
supplied from a power take-off. As the field bags are filled, they are placed
on a platform built on the side of the machine and carried to the end of the
row to be unloaded rather than set off along the row. The bags are normally
unloaded directly onto a field truck which hauls them to the packing shed.
The potatoes are usually dug without roto-beating the vines because the type
of vine eliminator used on the machine does a better job of separation when
the vines are left whole until harvested.

Data on the cost of harvesting potatoes with these machines give an indi-
cation of the savings possible with the use of this type equipment. Normally,
only two of the harvesters are used at the same time. The third machine is
kept as a standby in the case of a breakdown. Since the machines were built
on the farm it was difficult to estimate cost and the amount shown may be low.









In calculating cost a charge was made for each of the three machines. The
direct and overhead costs amounted to $939 per year (Table 4). The machines
were used to harvest 125 acres so the cost per acre was $7.51.

Normally six people are used to operate a harvester, one to drive the
tractor, two to pick out vines and trash, two to handle the bagging of the
potatoes and one to pick up potatoes dropped on the ground by the machine.
One man is used to supervise the operation of the two harvesters. A machine
will harvest around 100 field bags per hour that average about 80 pounds per
bag in weight. It requires about 1.l5 field bags to pack a 100 pound bag.
For a crop with a yield of 150 packed bags per acre, the rate of harvesting
is approximately 4.6 acres in 10 hours. The operators usually pay the same
contract rate for hauling machine harvested potatoes as for hand picked
potatoes even though the bags are heavier. This is true because less labor
is required to handle the field bags as they are usually loaded on the truck
directly from the harvester.


Table 4.- Estimated Cost and Life, and
Potato Harvesters, Hastings,


Cost of Operating One-Row Homemade
Florida, 1953.


: Amount per : Total three
Item : machine : machines

Cost and life:
Estimated cost $1,200 $3,600
Estimated life (years)2/ 10

Annual cost of operating:
Repairs $ 133 $ 399
Depreciation 120 360
Insurance, interest and taxes/ 60 180

Total 313 939

Cost per acre:3/
Repairs 3.19
Depreciation 2.88
Insurance, interest and taxes_2/ 1.44

Total 7.51

1/ Estimated (actual service) life, taking account of seasonal
operation. Assuming no salvage value at end of use period.
2/ Insurance 1 percent, interest 3 percent and taxes 1 percent
of estimated cost.
3/ Based on 125 acres harvested*

For a crop with a yield of 150 packed bags per acre the estimated cost
of harvesting with a one-row harvester and hauling the potatoes to the packing
shed at 1953 cost rates was $32.44 per acre, or 21.63 cents per packed bag
(Table 5). In 1953, some of the farmers in the Hastings area contracted pick-
ing up and hauling at 24 cents per 100 pound packed bag. If the roto-beating,
digging and supervising amounted to an additional 4.6 cents per bag, the
savings from the use of the one-row harvester were about 7 cents per 100 pound






-16-


packed bag, or $10.50 per acre.


Table 5.-


Cost per Hour, per Acre and per 100 Pound Packed Bag for Harvesting
and Hauling Potatoes with One-Row Homemade Harvesters, Hastings,
Florida, 1953.


: Cost per hour : Cost per acrel/ : Cost per 100
Item : Rate : : : pound cked
: :Number : Cost : Hours : Cost : bag!
cents
Digging and bagging potatoes:
Operating harvester:
Tractor driver $ .75 1 $ .75 2.17 $1.63 1.09
Other labor .75 5 3.75 10.85 8.14 5.42
Use of tractor 1.00 1 1.00 2.17 2.17 1,45
Equipment cost./ 3.45 7.51 5.00
Supervisory labor 1.09 1.09 .73
Use of field bags 1,00 .67

Total 8.95 21.54 14,36

Haul potatoes:
Contract hauling .05 2.184/ 10.90 7.27

Total Cost 32.44 21.63

1/ Based on a rate of harvesting of 4.6 acres in 10 hours.
2/ Based on a yield of 150 100 pound packed bags per acre.
3/ See table U.
4/ Average weight of field bags about 80 pounds, 1.45 field bags required to
pack 100 pound packed bag.

Comparison of Cost of Harvesting and Handling Potatoes
with Mechanical Harvesters and Bulk Equipment
and in the Usual Way

Data on the estimated cost of harvesting and handling potatoes with mech-
anical equipment and in the usual way, were obtained from farmers in Alabama
since more machines have been used in that state and farmers there have had
more experience with the use of mechanical equipment.

.In Alabama i: 1953 two makes each of commercial harvesters made by
different m, .facturers were operated as direct harvesters and two as indirect
harvesters. Each -iake varied as to features, amount of labor used in
operating equipment and other factors. In presenting these results certain
data on cost and quality have been shown as applying to direct harvesters
Make A and B and indirect harvesters Make C and D. This was done not in an
effort to compare makes of equipment but because an average for machines of
different makes was often meaningless. For example, if five people were
normally used to operate Make A and 10 people Make B an average of 7.5 did not
apply to either machine.

One harvester with complementary equipment was operated on five of the
seven units on which cost of operating mechanical equipment was obtained; two






-17-


harvesters were operated on one unit and three on another (Table 6). On all
farms the number of acres harvested varied from 100 to 300 acres per set of
equipment but was 119 acres or less on four of the units. The rate of har-
vesting per machine averaged about .7 acre, or 175 bushels, per hour if the
one farm on which the potatoes were grown to be used in making potato chips
is excluded.


Table 6.-


Summary of Miscellaneous Information for Farm Units on which RecordE
were Obtained on the Cost of Operating Mechanical Harvesters and
Bulk Handling Equipment, Alabama, 1953.


: Farm unit number
Item : 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 7

Mechanical harvester:
Number 1 1 2 1 1 1 3
Estimated life (years) 10 10 5 5 5 10 4

Hopper type boxes:
Number 3 3 4 3 4 h 12
Estimated life (years) 10 10 10 10 20 10 10

Acres in potatoes 110 119 300 115 190 500 500
Acres harvested mechanically 110 119 200 115 190 350 500
Acres harvested per machine 110 119 100 115 190 2/ 167

Yield per acre:
Estimated bushels per acre,1953 267 320 267 233 200 192 431
Estimated bushels per acre,
normal yield 259 233 167 233 200 192 325

Average hours machine operated
per day 10 9 10 8 9 10 9
Acres harvested per machine per
hour under average conditions .70 .67 .60 .75 .78 *80 1*33
Bushels harvested per machine per
hour under average conditions 187 214 160 175 156 154 573

1/ All of the potatoes on this farm were white varieties grown for making
potato chips. They were handled with less care than potatoes packed for
table stock
2/ On this farm, 50 acres were harvested with a mechanical harvester on a
custom basis. The machine owned by the farmer was used to harvest 300
acres.


Four or five different operations are performed in the mechanical har-
vesting of potatoes depending on whether the direct or indirect method is
used. They are: (1) roto-cutting the tops, (2) digging and windrowing the
potatoes (indirect method), (3) picking up from window or digging, separating
from dirt and vines, and conveying into bulk truck boxes, (4) hauling potatoes
to packinghouse, and (5) unloading trucks on conveyor at packinghouse. Some
operators using mechanical harvesters do not roto-cut the vines unless there
is excessive weeds and grass in the field. Six consecutive operations are






-18-


normally performed in harvesting potatoes in the usual way: (1) roto-cutting
the tops, (2) digging the potatoes, (3) picking up into baskets and pouring
into field bags, (4) loading the field bags of potatoes on trucks in the field,
(5) hauling potatoes to packinghouse, and (6) transferring field bags from
trucks to conveyor at packinghouse.

Costs are shown for the operations listed. In each case cost includes a
charge for labor, power and use of the equipment and is given on a per hour,
per acre and per 100 pound packed bag basis. In order to put the various
makes of equipment and method of harvesting on a comparable basis, the data in
each case were summarized in terms of a unit of 125 acres and a normal yield
of 120 packed bags per acre. In studying the data, one should keep in mind
that costs vary widely among farms and those for an individual farm may be
much different from the amount shown. These data show the estimated average
cost for the rates of performance indicated. Cost data were obtained for
seven units using mechanical harvesters and 30 units on which the potatoes
were harvested in the usual way.

Purchase price, estimated life and average cost of operating potato har-
vesting equipment: A unit of mechanical equipment usually consisted of a
harvester and three hopper-type boxes. The total investment in equipment
where only one unit was used varied from $6,000 to $8,500/ depending on the
make of equipment, method of harvesting, date of purchase and other factors
(Table 7). VWith an annual use on 125 acres, the life of a mechanical har-
vester was estimated at seven years and hopper-type bodies at 10 years. The
estimated cost per hour of operating a mechanical harvester exclusive of labor
and tractor power varied from $5*32 to $10.03 depending on the type of har-
vester (Table 8). The cost per acre varied from $6.65 to $12*91. About two-
thirds or more of the total cost was overhead cost.

Farmers estimated the life of a roto-cutter to be seven years and the
life of a digger 14 years (Table 7). Exclusive of labor and power the esti-
mated cost was $1.1 per acre to operate a roto-cutter, $2.51 to operate a
potato digger, and 65 cents for a windrower.

Comparison of cost: Under average conditions, the estimated cost of
digging potatoes and placing them on the conveyor to the washer with a mech-
anical harvester and bulk handling equipment was about $36.50 per acre or
29 cents per 100 pound packed bag (Table 9). This was about 10 cents per
packed bag, or $12.00 per acre, less than the cost of harvesting and handling
potatoes in the usual way. Most of the farmers in Alabama who picked up in
field bags contracted the picking up, checking, loading and hauling at 30
cents per 100 pound packed bag* This was somewhat higher than the usual
custom rate in Florida but the yield per acre was less.

For the conventional method, most of the costs are on a contract basis.
Therefore a change in the rate of harvesting has very little effect on the
per unit cost. For mechanical equipment, an increase in the amount harvested
per hour, due to covering more acres, a higher yield per acre or both, results
in a marked decrease in per unit cost. This is shown by one unit in Alabama
where white potatoes were grown for potato chips* On this farm 167 acres
were harvested per machine. The yield was 225 packed bags per acre. The

7/ Amount of investment does not include value of tractor for pulling
harvester or trucks for hauling potatoes.






-19-


Table 7.-


Purchase Price, Present Age, Estimated Life and Cost of Operating
Various Types of Potato Harvesting Equipment, Alabama, 1953.


S: : : Cost of operation
:: : Esti- : : Overhead cost :
Item :Purchase:Present: mated : Opera- : :Interest : Total
: price : age : life : ting :Depre- :insurance: cost
: t : : cost :ciation:taxesl/

Total Cost per Year2/


Roto-cutter
Digger
Windrower
Direct mechanical
harvester:
Make A
Make B
Indirect mechanical
harvester:
Make C
Bulk bodies/
Electric motor


$475
725
210


6,000
5,625


2,800
1,890
50


$ 50
225
41


4563/
39h4/


7 2912/


Cost per Acre2/


Roto-cutter
Digger
Windrower
Direct mechanical
harvester:
Make A
Make B
Indirect mechanical
harvester:
Make C
Bulk bodies/
Electric motor


.4o
1.80
.33


3.653/
3.152/


2.333/
.24
.Oh


.55
.42
*.2


6.86
6.43


3.20
1.51
.0*


.19
.29
.08


1.14
2.51
.65


2.40 12.91
2.25 11.83


1.12
.76
.02


6.65
2.51
.10


I/ Insurance 1 percent, interest 3 percent and taxes 1 percent of purchase
price (interest at 3 percent equals to approximately 5 percent of the
undepreciated balance).
2/ Based on an annual use of 125 acres per year.
3/ See table 8.
4/ Cost for three hopper type boxes.


$ 68
52
30


857
804


4oo
189
5


$ 24
36
10


300
281


140
95
2


$142
313
81


1,613
1,479


831
314
12






-20-


Table 8.- Cost per Hour and per Acre of Operating Mechanical Harvesters,
Alabama, 1953.

: : Direct : Indirect
S : : harvester : harvester
Item :Unit:Price: Make A : Make B : Make C
: : :Amount:Cost:Amount: Cost : Amount : Cost


Cost per Hour of Operation


Operating cost:
Fuel
Motor oil
Grease
Service labor
Repairs

Total Operating Cost

Overhead costs:l/


gal.
qt.
lb.
hr.


Depreciation
Insurance, interest, taxes/

Total Overhead

Total Cost


Operating cost:
Fuel
Motor oil
Grease
Service labor


gal.
qt.
lb.
hre


*24
.25
.13
.75


1.50
.11
.17
.05


$.36
.03
.02
.04
2.10

2.55


4.80
1.68

6<.8


9.03

Cost per Acre3/


2915
.16
.24
.07


Repairs

Total Operating Cost

Overhead counts: /
Depreciation
Insurance, interest, taxes/

Total Overhead

Total Cost


.52
,o04
.03
.06
3- 0

3 65


6.86
2 0L

9,26

12.91


1/ Based on an anr.ual use of 125 acres per year


Inaz'2.nce 2, perc,nt, interact 3 acrccnt an:l taxes 1 percent

Based on a rate of h',.rvest4.i cf -7 acre per hour for Make
per hour for Make B and .8 acre per hour for Make C.


of purchase

A, .85 acre


1.00
.11
.17
.06


$.24
.03
.02
.05
2.33

2.67


5.45S


7.36

10.03


$.18
.03
.01
.0O
1l60

1.86

2.56
,90

3.46

5.32


1.18
.13
.20
.07


.94
.14
.1 l
.06


.28
*oh
.02
6,2
6 0
2.75

3.15


6.43


8.68

11.83


.23
-04
Soh
.01

2.00

2.33


3.20
1.12

4.32

6.65


2/

3/1






-21-


Table 9.-


Summary of Costs: Cost per Acre and per 100 Pound Packed Bag of
Harvesting and Handling Potatoes with Mechanical Harvesters and
Bulk Equipment and the Usual Method, Alabama, 1953-


: Direct harvester :Indirect harvester : Usual
Item : Make Al/ : Make B2/ : Make C3/ : method/

Cost per Acre5/
Roto-cutting $ 194 $ 1.94 $ 1.94 $ 1.94
Digging, picking up,
checking and loading 19.84 20.86 22.12 32.02
Hauling 11.10 9.59 10.01 10.80

Total 32.88 32.39 34.07 44.76

Unloading and picking
out trash 1.54 1.54 1.54 2.04

Total Cost 34.42 33.93 35.61 46.80

Cost per 100 Pound Packed Bag6/
cents cents cents cents
Roto-cutting 1.62 1.62 1.62 1.62
Digging, picking up,
checking and loading 16.53 17.38 18.43 26.68
Hauling 9.25 7.99 8.34 9.00

Total 27.40 26.99 28.39 37.30

Unloading and picking
out trash 1.28 1.28 1.28 1.70

Total Cost 28.68 28.27 29.67 39*00


1/ See table 3 appendix.
2/ See table 4 appendix.
3/ See table 5 appendix.
4/ See table 6 appendix.
5/ Based on harvesting 125
6/ Based on a yield of 120


acres by each method.
packed bags per acre*


rate of harvesting was 1.33 acres, or 573 bushels per hour. The estimated
cost per 100 pound packed bag was 13.90 cents (Table 10). Since the potatoes
were grown for potato chips they were handled with less care than is ordina-
rily desirable. However, the data give an indication of the reduction in
cost of harvesting and handling if the amount handled per hour can be
increased*






-22-


INJURIES TO POTATOES

For mechanical harvesting and handling equipment to be entirely satis-
factory, it not only must be practical from a cost standpoint but it must not
cause undue physical injury to the potatoes. Injuries, even minor ones, often
pave the way for decay, impair appearance, and increase paring losses. If


Table 10.- Cost per Acre and per 100 Pound Packed Bag for Harvesting and
Handling Potatoes with Mechanical Harvesters and Bulk Equipment,
Selected Farm, Alabama, 1953.
Se/ : Cost per 100 pound
Item Cost per acre packed bag/
cents

Roto-cutting3/ $ 1.80 .80
Digging and windrowing,4/ 4*92 2.18
Picking up and loading/ 12.30 5.47
Hauling 11.47 5.10
Unloading and picking out trash5/ .78 .35

Total 31.27 13.90

1/ Cost based on using equipment on 500 acres of potatoes* All potatoes of
white varieties and grown for making potato chips.
2/ Cost per unit is calculated on a yield of 225 packed bags per acre.
3/ Roto-cutting is calculated on the basis of cutting two acres per hour*
h/ Rate of digging and harvesting 1.33 acres per hour per machine or 12
acres in nine hours. Estimated rate of picking up and loading 573
bushels per hour.
5/ Unloading on the basis of 300 packed bags per hour*


the injury causes enough damage it may represent a grade defect. The impor-
tance of keeping injuries at a minimum cannot be over emphasized since they
have been found or objected to more often than any other kind of defect on
potatoes.

Samples were collected at selected points during the handling of potatoes
in the field and packinghouse to determine the amount of physical damage and
where it was occurring. Usually three to six samples of about 30 pounds each
were collected, but the number of samples varied from one to 12 and the size
from 25 to 60 pounds, depending on the need. Care was taken to obtain
samples as representative as possible and not to add injuries during the
collection and later examination of the potatoes.

The potatoes in each sample were washed, separated into three sizes and
examined for physical injuries. In so far as possible, samples were collected
for each type of equipment and method of handling as the potatoes came from
the washer since this point was common to all. Three classes of injuries
were recorded, (1) digger cuts made by the digger blade, (2) injuries of
sufficient extent that the potato probably would not meet U. S. #1 grade
requirements (major injuries), and (3) lesser injuries (minor injuries)* All
data were recorded by weight and converted to percentages on that basis






-23-


except in one instance where the data were recorded by number of potatoes for
a special purpose.


Damage in Sebago Potatoes Handled in Bulk from the
Field to the Packinghouse

From the standpoint of amount of injuries, the use of a field loader
and bulk equipment to handle Sebago potatoes from the field to the washer was
very satisfactory. Samples were collected from the field bags of potatoes
before they were loaded in the bulk bodies and off the conveyor in the pack-
inghouse after the potatoes were unloaded. An average of three tests showed
that only 0.2 percent major damage and 1.7 percent minor damage were added
to the potatoes when handled by the bulk loader and bulk trucks (Table 11).


Table 11.-


Amount of Physical Injuries to Sebago Potatoes at End of Picking
Up and After Loading and Unloading with Bulk Equipment, Hastings,
Florida, 1953.1/

: Pounds of injured potatoes per 100 pounds
: of field run potatoes
Type of : :At the end of loading: Increase
injury : At the end of : and unloading with : in
: picking up : bulk equipment : injuries

Minor injury 3-5 5.2 1.7
Major injury 1.6 1.8 .2

Total 5.1 7.0 1.9

Digger cuts and
crushed potatoes .6 1.0 _*.

Total Damage 5.7 8.0 2.3

l/ Average of three samplings.


Damage in Potatoes Harvested with Mechanical Harvesters
and Handled in Bulk Equipment

Growers and packers are particularly concerned whether mechanical har-
vesting and bulk handling cause more or less injury to the potatoes than
present methods. It was difficult to obtain accurate comparisons to answer
this question because the two methods were nearly always used in different
fields and usually by different growers. In Dade County, Florida, samples
of Pontiac potatoes harvested with a two-row digger and handled in field bags
or with a direct two-row mechanical harvester and bulk trucks were obtained
from the same field or comparable fields on three separate days. In this
case the proportion of potatoes showing physical damage was 17.5 percent for
mechanical harvester and 15.6 percent for the conventional method (Table 12).

A more general comparison was obtained in Baldwin County, Alabama, on
Bliss Triumph potatoes dug in the same general area. These data showed that
potatoes harvested and handled with bulk equipment contained about the same






-24-


Table 12.- Amount and Kind of Injuries to Pontiac Potatoes Harvested with
Two-Row Digger and Handled in Field Bags and Bulk Trucks, Dade
County, Florida, 1953.1/

: Pounds of injured potatoes per 100 pounds
: of field run potatoes when
ye of :Harvested with mechan-
injury :Harvested and handled :ical harvester and
: in field bags :handled in bulk trucks

Minor injury 10.9 13.9
Major injury 2.0 3.1
Digger cuts 2.7 .5

Total 15.6 17.5

1/ Average of three samplings from same or nearby fields on
same dates. All samples collected from the washer in the
packinghouse.


or slightly more injuries than those harvested with a digger and hauled in
field bags (Fig. 7). Samples for this comparison were obtained during the
first part of the harvest season. The potatoes were extremely easy to bruise
and the amount of damage by both methods was high. Damage by both methods
decreased as the potatoes became more mature.

In both Florida and Alabama physical damage was more in small, medium
or large potatoes harvested and handled mechanically than in potatoes har-
vested and handled in the conventional way (Table 13). In Dade County,
the bulk equipment normally caused more major injuries and fewer digger cuts
than the conventional method but the reverse was usually true in Baldwin
County* In each area, the amount of damage increased as the size of the
potatoes increased, indicating that the nature of the problem remains
essentially the same whether the potatoes are harvested and handled mech-
anically or in the conventional manner.

Many things influenced the amount of damage. Even with the same equip-
ment the variation from day to day was fairly high (Table 14). A detailed
account of the reasons for such variation is not possible but some of the
factors involved were variety, maturity, soil and weed conditions, agitation,
speed of machines and chains, care by the operator and laborers, and modifi-
cations in machinery and equipment.

Place where injuries occurred: In both the direct and indirect method
of harvesting, several separate machines or operations are used. Samples
were collected to determine the amount and type of injury occurring at each
major step or set of equipment. During the period when samples were collected
in Alabama, in each 100 pounds of Bliss Triumph potatoes harvested with the
direct harvester A, 29,4 pounds were injured on the harvester, 5.5 pounds in
the bulk trucks and 13.0 pounds in unloading and conveying the potatoes to
the washer (Table 15).

Pontiac potatoes harvested with harvester B in Dade County showed 16.2
pounds of each 100 injured on the harvester, 6.1 pounds in the bulk trucks






-25-


Legend:
Pounds Pounds of injured potatoes per 100
70- pounds of field run potatoes when:
SDug with conventional digger
60 0 and handled in field bags.
X
r- Dug with mechanical harvester
X JI and handled in bulk.

"" X
40-~----

~-O
30- X -
'X'---)

20


10-


0 1 I I I 1 I r I l t I I j I
20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
April Date May

Fig. 7.- Amount of injury to Bliss Triumph potatoes dug with a two-row
digger and handled in field bags and dug with mechanical har-
vester and handled in bulk, Baldwin County, Alabama, April 20 -
May 13, 1953. (All samples from the washer in the packing shed,)


and little or no damage in unloading and washing (Table 16). In Alabama,
the same type of equipment harvesting Bliss Triumph potatoes injured 25.3
pounds in each 100 on the harvester, 10.4 pounds in the bulk trucks, and
6.7 pounds in unloading and washing. Observations were that unloading in
Dade County was done with more care than in Alabama. These data bear this
out.

In each 100 pounds of Bliss Triumph potatoes harvested by the indirect
method with harvester C in Alabama, l1.0 pounds were injured in windrowing,
12.5 pounds by the harvester, 4.6 pounds by the bulk trucks, and 8.8 pounds
in unloading and washing (Table 17).

In Pontiac potatoes harvested by the indirect method with harvester D in
Dade County, Florida, 12*. pounds in each 100 pounds contained injuries at
the end of picking up, of the total injured 8.5 pounds occurred in. windrow-
ing and 3.9 pounds on the harvester (Table 18). Data were not collected.
showing injuries caused by the bulk trucks or unloading because these results
were obtained on demonstrations of the harvester and the potatoes were
placed in bags. In Alabama, where Sebago potatoes were harvested rather
roughly with the same make of equipment, 11.0 pounds in 100 were injured in
windrowing, 1.3 pounds on the harvester, 3.1 pounds in the bulk trucks, and






-26-


Table 13.-


Relation of Size of Potatoes to Amount and Type of Injury when
Harvested with Mechanical Harvesters and Handled in Bulk Trucks
or Harvested by the Conventional Method, Dade County, Florida
and Baldwin County, Alabama, 1953*


: : Size : Pounds of potatoes per 100 pounds
: Method of : of : of field run potatoes with
Variety : handling :potatoes: Minor : Major : Digger : Total
: :(Inches): injuries : injuries : cuts : damage

Dade County, Floridal/

Pontiac Mechanical har- Less than
vesters and bulk 1 7/8 8.5 3.2 .1 11.8
trucks
trucks 1 7/8 3 16.6 3.9 .5 21.0

over 3 23.6 3.1 2.2 28.9

Conventional Less than
digger and 1 7/8 2.9 1.6 1.2 5.7
field bags
1 7/8 3 9.3 1.9 2.4 13.6

over 3 14l9 2.5 2.7 20.1

Baldwin County, Alabama/

Bliss Mechanical har- Less than
Triumph vesters and bulk 1 7/8 21.0 6.3 2.0 29.3
trucks
1 7/8 3 30.8 10.3 1.9 43.0

over 3 44.8 13.8 3,4 62.0

Conventional Less than
digger and 1 7/8 12.0 4.8 .0 16.8
field bags
field bags 1 7/8 3 22.6 11.6 .9 35.1

over 3 27.0 24.0 .0 51.0


1/ Injuries in samples of potatoes
house; 2,005 pounds of potatoes


collected from the washer in one packing-
harvested with mechanical harvesters and


handled with bulk equipment and 785 pounds of potatoes harvested with a
conventional digger and handled in field bags were examined.
2/ Injuries in samples of potatoes collected from the washer in several
packinghouses; 1,009 pounds of potatoes harvested with mechanical
harvesters and handled with bulk equipment and 688 pounds of potatoes
harvested with a conventional digger and handled in field bags were
examined.






-27-


Table 14.- Variation in Amount and Type of Injury to Pontiac Potatoes
Harvested with Mechanical Harvester B and Handled in Bulk
Trucks, Dade County, Florida, February 25 March 14, 1953.1/

: Pounds of potatoes per 100 pounds of
: field run potatoes with
Date : Minor : Major : Digger :
: injuries : injuries : cuts : a

Feb. 25 9.2 2.7 1.0 12.9
Mar. 2 13.5 4.1 .3 17*9
3 19.1 2.4 .3 21.8
3 20.1 3.0 .4 23.5
4 16.9 1.8 *0 18.7
10 18.0 4.5 1.3 23.8
11 15.8 2.7 2.4 20.9
12 23.2 8.2 2.3 33.7
12 12.4 2.1 .0 14.5
14 20.8 3.4 .0 24.2

Average 16.9 3.5 .8 21.2

Percent of
Total 79.7 16.5 3.8 100.0

1/ All samples collected from the washer in the packinghouse.


1.6 pounds in unloading.

On the average, 60 to 73 percent of the total damage in potatoes
harvested with direct harvesters at time of washing occurred on the har-
vester. Less damage was caused by indirect harvesters than by direct
harvesters. However, in the indirect method damage caused by windrowing
and picking up was about the same as for direct harvesting and amounted to


Table 15.-


Amount and Type of Injury to Bliss Triumph Potatoes Harvested
with Mechanical Harvester A and Handled in Bulk Trucks, Baldwin
County, Alabama, 1953.1/


: Pounds of potatoes injured per 100
: pounds of field run potatoes by
Type of injury : :: Unloading and
Harvester : Bulk trucks : washing

Minor injury 21.7 3.5 8.7
Major injury 6.6 1.9 4.1
Digger cuts 1.1 .1 .2

Total 29.4 5.5 13.0

Relative Amount (percent) 61.4 11.5 27.1

1/ Average of three samplings.






-28-


Table 16.- Amount and Type
Harvester B and
Baldwin County,


of Injury to Potatoes Harvested with Mechanical
Handled in Bulk Trucks, Dade County, Florida and
Alabama, 1953.


: : Pounds of potatoes injured per 100
Location and : Type of : pounds of field run potatoes by
variety : injury : :: Unloading
Harvester. Bulk trucks:and washing

Dade County, Florida Minor 13.9 5.1 .5
Pontiacl/ Major 2.2 1.0 .8
Digger cuts .1 .0 .1

Total 16.2 6.1 1.2

Relative amount (percent) 72.6 27.4 3/

Baldwin County, Alabama Minor 21.5 5.2 6.4
Bliss Triumph2/ Major 1.8 3.9 1.4
Digger cuts 2.0 1.3 1.7

Total 25.3 10.4 6.7

Relative amount (percent) 59*7 24.5 15.8

1/ Average of two samplings.
2/ Average of one sampling,
3/ Negative value accepted as sampling error.


64 to 73 percent of the total injury in the potatoes at time
bulk trucks caused from 12 to 27 percent of the injury. The
was caused primarily in unloading and conveying the potatoes


Table 17.-


of washing. The
remaining damage
to the washer


Amount and Type of Injury to Bliss Triumph Potatoes Windrowed and
Harvested by Mechanical Harvester C Using Bulk Trucks, Baldwin
County, Alabama, 1953.1/


Type of
injury


: Pounds of potatoes injured per 100
: pounds of field run potatoes by
:Digger and: : Bulk : Unloading
:windrower :Harvester : trucks :and washing


Minor injury 7.8 10.0 2.6 5.8
Major injury 2.4 2.9 1.9 3.0
Digger cuts .8 *4 .1 0.

Total 11.0 12.5 4.6 8.8

Relative amount
(percent) 29.8 33*9 12.5 23.8

1/ Average of four samplings.






-29-


and amounted to as much as 27 percent of the total damage in the potatoes at
time of washing. Excluding digger cuts, 10 to 30 percent of all injuries in
samples of potatoes collected from the washer were classed as major injuries.
The data available were not sufficient to determine whether there was any
consistent difference due to method or make of equipment* Observations
indicated that the quality of the product was due more to the operation than
to the type of equipment.


Table 18.- Amount and Type of Injury to Potatoes Windrowed and Harvested
with Mechanical Harvester D Using Bulk Trucks, Dade County,
Florida and Mobile County, Alabama, 1953.

: : Pounds of potatoes injured per 100
Location and : Type of : pounds of field run potatoes by
variety : injury :Digger and: : Bulk
: :windrower :Harvester: trucks :Unloading

Dade County, Florida Minor 6.7 4.3 2/ 2/
Pontiacl/ Major 1.7 *3
Digger cuts .1 rl

Total 8.5 3*9

Mobile County, Minor 8.2 .3 .2 3.4
Alabama Major .1 ,6 *7 *7
Sebago3/ Digger cuts 2.7 1.0 2.2 1.1

Total 11.0 1.3 3.1 1.6

Relative amount (percent) 64.8 7.6 18.2 9.4


Average of two samplings.
No data obtained.
One sampling, potatoes handled
variation.


roughly, negative values due to sample


Reduction of Injuries


The amount of physical injuries in early potatoes harvested with mech-
anical equipment must be reduced for the equipment to be readily accepted by
growers. Many of the injuries observed in 1953 were due to inexperience of
the operators in operating the equipment and the failure to organize the
packinghouses operations properly to handle potatoes in bulk. The amount of
injury should decrease as operators gain more experience in operating the
equipment and further modifications are made by manufacturers and growers.

Tests at Hastings, Florida and in Charleston County, South Carolina in
1951 and 1952 showed that the use of rubber tubing, belting and padding were
very helpful in reducing injury caused by the conventional digger.8/ Prelim-

8/ Todd, B.J. and Greene, R. E. L., "Reduction of Physical Injuries to Early
Irish Potatoes During Digging and Picking Up," South Carolina Agricultural
Experiment Station, Southern Cooperative Series, Bul, 32, March, 1953.






-30-


inary tests indicated that similar protection also helps to reduce injuries
to potatoes dug with direct mechanical harvesters (Tables 19 and 20). On
the one-row harvester in the Hastings area the potatoes were dropped 22
inches from the digger chain to a cross conveyor. The amount of damage
caused by the harvester was only half as much on one machine where the rods
of the cross conveyor were covered with rubber tubes as it was on a second
machine where the rods were not covered. In the indirect method of harvest-
ing considerable damage is often done in windrowing the potatoes. Such steps
as placing rubber tubing on each high link of the digger chains, covering


Table 19.-


Table 20.-


Amount of Injuries to Sebago Potatoes Harvested with a Homemade
Harvester with a Cross Conveyor Chain Not Covered and Covered with
Rubber Tubes, Hastings, Florida, 1953.

: Pounds of potatoes injured per 100 pounds of
Type of : field run potatoes when cross conveyor was
defect : Non-rubberized : Rubberized

Minor damage 12.3 6.6
Major damage 1.1 .5
Digger cuts .2 .6

Total 13.6 7.7


Injuries to Large Sized Pontiac Potatoes on Non-Rubberized and
Partly Rubberized Digger and Elevator Chains, Mechanical Har-
vester B, Dade County, Florida, 1953,1/

: Pounds of potatoes injured per 100 pounds of
Place of : field run potatoes with
injury : Non-rubberized chain : Partly rubberized chain

Digger chain 9-7 7.5
Elevator chain 7.0 *.5

Total 16.7 12.0

1/ Average of three samplings, 50 potatoes per sample, five
samples per treatment at each sampling.


the link ends with belting, and digging slowly with ample soil on the digger
chains should reduce injuries in this operation. It is also believed that
the use of rubber tubing on the digger chain of the indirect harvester and
protection over the link ends would help to reduce injury in picking-up and
loading the potatoes.

Data on injury show that a considerable amount of damage was caused to
the potatoes in unloading the bulk trucks and conveying them to the washer*
Damage was high because the potatoes frequently were allowed to fall a







-31-


considerable distance on a rod type conveyor with no protection and quite
often there were long drops from one conveyor to another or into the washer.
In one case where samples were collected, as much as 53 pounds of potatoes
in every 100 was injured when they fell from the conveyor in the bulk
bodies onto the conveyor carrying them to the washer. In this case, 15 of the
53 pounds received major injuries that were probably sufficient to throw the
potatoes out of the U. S. #1 grade. In a test, where the potatoes were
dropped 20 inches from the bulk bodies onto a rod conveyor chain, the use
of rubber tubes on the rods reduced the amount of injury in unloading from
18 to six pounds in each 100 pounds. Major injuries per 100 pounds were
reduced from five to 1 1/2 pounds. Rolling the potatoes down a rubber flap
used on some of the bodies reduced the amount of damage from a 20 inch fall
from 22 to 11 pounds in each 100 unloaded. In this case, the flap eliminated
all of the major damage that had amounted to nearly eight pounds per 100 at
that point. These data were obtained with easily bruised Bliss Triumph
potatoes that were fairly immature but were representative of the potatoes
being harvested at that time. They illustrate the necessity for handling
the potatoes carefully, providing protection where they fall and keeping the
distance of the drop to a minimum.


ELIMINATION OF CLODS, VINES, AND TRASH

It may seem needless to state that the elimination of clods, vines and
other trash from potatoes harvested with mechanical equipment is of funda-
mental importance. Under ideal conditions, when the soil is fine and fairly
dry and there is little vegetation, the problem of separation is not diffi-
cult. Under adverse conditions such as heavy soils or excess vegetation it
is very difficult to get complete separation even though the number of
workers on the harvester is increased.

Various mechanical devices to help eliminate clods, vines and other
trash such as sloping belts or chains (Fig. 8 and 9), "snapper rollers"
(Fig* 10), and strippers are in use or are being tried. Some are more
successful than others because of the design or the skill of the operator
and crew in using them. Their effectiveness also varies with conditions
and often they are of little value under very adverse conditions.

As an example of the efforts to develop equipment to do the job of sepa-
ration as efficiently as possible, it was found on one farm that a harvester
with vine eliminators but no clod eliminator was frequently loading bulk
trucks with as much as 30 percent clods and trash and 70 percent potatoes
(by weight); a clod eliminator tried in one field on this type of harvester
reduced the percentage of clods and trash in the load to four percent.


PROBLEMS AND SUGGESTIONS

The successful operation of mechanical potato harvesting and handling
equipment depends on many factors. Many of the difficulties observed during
the 1952 and 1953 seasons were due to the packinghouses not being properly
organized to handle potatoes dug and handled mechanically, inexperience of
the people operating the equipment and needed adjustments in the equipment
to make it more satisfactory for conditions in the Southeast. Many changes
and improvements are continuously being made by the manufacturers and
farmers operating the equipment. Many of the mistakes in operation will not





-32-


I
i- t '.





























Fig. 2.- Two inclined chains carry much of the clods, vines, and other trash off the side of this
harvester. Potatoes are rolled down to the next conveyor.


Fig. 9.- An inclined rubberized belt aids in the separation of potatoes from unwanted material
on this harvester.







-33-


occur as the farmers gain more experience. This section contains some rather
general points for evaluating prospective equipment and improving the opera-
tion of present equipment. Because of the limited number of observations
and data that have been collected, some of the suggestions are tentative.
However, because of the interest in the problems of mechanical harvesting
in the Southeast at present, it is believed that they will be of consider-
able value even though some of them may be subject to change.


Selection of Equipment

The selection of equipment depends upon such factors as capital avail-
able, type of equipment already owned, facilities for packing the potatoes,
condition and type of soil, variety and harvesting conditions. A farmer
short on capital may elect only partially to mechanize his harvesting opera-
tions. If he has a good digger, he may purchase an indirect harvester
because the investment is less than for a direct harvester. If he packs his
potatoes at a packinghouse that packs for only one or a few farmers, the
problem of handling potatoes in bulk is less than if the packinghouse is
used by a number of growers. A farmer may use a machine that places the
potatoes in bags or boxes in order not to have to change the method of
hauling the field containers and handling them at the packinghouse.

The farmer should select the type of equipment that best fits his
particular situation. In areas of heavy soils or in fields that are extremely
weedy or grassy at harvest time, the indirect method of harvesting may be
more satisfactory provided the potatoes may be exposed long enough for some
drying without causing damage due to exposure. Some drying may make it
possible to separate the potatoes from the soil with less agitation. It
is also easier to separate wilted weeds and grass than green, succulent
vegetation which results in cleaner potatoes and also less injury. If'the
soil is sandy, the direct method may be more satisfactory. This method
eliminates the danger of damage due to exposure and requires only one
operation for digging and loading.

In the Southeast, it is particularly important to consider maneuver-
ability in selecting equipment because narrow headlands, short rows, drainage
ditches and pot holes are frequently encountered. Due to length and size,
it is difficult to use some of the commercial harvesters in many of the
fields in this area. As an aid in turning, some harvesters have been equipped
with power steering on the rear wheels. Power for operating most makes of
commercial harvesters is supplied by a separate motor so that travel speed
and apron speeds of the harvester can be controlled independently in order
to obtain good separation under various field conditions with maximum
machine capacity and minimum tuber damage.


Coordinating Use of Equipment with Packinghouse Operations

In the Southeast, harvesting must be geared to the operation of the
packinghouses for the potatoes are dug, graded and shipped almost in one
continuous operation. The volume of potatoes needed to supply a packinghouse
depends on the size and amount of equipment used. Some packing lines handle
as little as 15,000 pounds of potatoes per hour while others handle 30,000
pounds or even more. Some houses have two or more packing lines. Some sheds
have bins, racks or other means of providing temporary storage for potatoes






-34-


to help overcome the problem of maintaining a continuous supply for the
packing lines.

When potatoes are handled with bulk equipment it is necessary to
coordinate the various operations so that the proper volume of potatoes is
supplied and maintained. If a mechanical harvester is used, it must have
sufficient capacity to supply the packinghouse otherwise two or more machines
must be used. Some potatoes need to be held at the packinghouse in temporary
storage because there is always the danger of delay due to mechanical break-
down. Such storage might be obtained by modifying present bins or construct-
ing bins so that bulk trucks can unload into them. Care also must be
exercised to see that the bulk trucks are not tied up too long waiting to
unload and thus stop the harvesting operation because of lack of trucks in
the field.

Consideration should be given to facilities for repairing and maintain-
ing the equipment. Because of the absence of repair parts, harvesters have
remained idle for several hours or days while needed parts were shipped in
or made locally. Manufacturers and dealers should see that the operators
are given proper operating instructions. Bearings have burned out and motors
have been overloaded because of inadequate instructions or because the
operator was careless with the equipment. The improper adjustments of slip
clutches, chains and sprockets have often caused annoying breakdowns and
delays. Some machines contain parts or mechanisms that are a chronic source
of trouble. These should be strengthened or redesigned by the manufacturer.
Decreasing time lost due to mechanical failure will reduce the cost of
harvesting potatoes with mechanical equipment. It will also make it more
dependable and easier to coordinate the digging and packing operations.


Operation and Management of Equipment

The quality of potatoes harvested with mechanical equipment is affected
by all operations and each operation should be done as efficiently as condi-
tions permit. Some factors are within the control of the operator and some
are not, but in many cases operation of present equipment can be substan-
tially improved.

Windrowing: Properly windrowing the potatoes has a marked effect on
the success of the indirect operation. Improperly formed windows can result
in serious losses of potatoes from mechanical damage and spillout to the
side of the row. Equipment is available for making the window either on
the top or between the rows of potatoes. Wiindrowing between the rows is
not satisfactory for potatoes grown on extremely high beds for the high
ridges make it difficult to get the pick-up chain of the indirect harvester
low enough to pass under the potatoes; this results in a large number being
crushed or bruised. Windrowing on top of the row places the potatoes in
soil that has been loosened by digging and makes it easier for the indirect
harvester to penetrate to the bottom of the window and also results in less
wear on the pick-up chain.

The window should be eight to ten inches narrower than the pick-up
apron on the harvester. To keep potatoes from rolling out of the window
they are dropped ina shallow furrow which is usually made by a V shaped
drag or some heavy weight that is pulled along on top of the row under one
side of the digger (Fig. h). The furrow should be straight, flat, shallow










and have a level bottom of loose soil. When the furrow is too deep or varies
considerably in depth some of the potatoes may not be picked up by the har-
vester or may be crushed because the digger chain does not penetrate deep
enough to pass below them. The potatoes are likely to be damaged in picking
up any time the center line of the front idler on the pick-up apron is not
down to the bottom of the window. As the window becomes deeper, more dirt
will be carried up on the digger chain. This increases the problem of
separation. The depth of the furrow can be controlled by the weight of the
drag and by the points of attachment of the drag to the digger.

Harvesting: The proper operation of the harvester is very important.
Controls for raising and lowering the front end of the digger, for running
the belts and chains and for raising and lowering the bulk loader should all
be placed together in a convenient location where the operator can readily
see all operations. Most operators have found manually operated controls
too slow and have replaced them with hydraulically powered ones.

Laborers should not be allowed to become careless and should be assigned
to the tasks they perform best. Rotation from one position to another may
reduce fatigue and thus improve the quality of the work.

One problem of direct harvesting when bulk equipment is used is that of
"opening up" the field for the harvester. This is done by digging out guard
rows with the conventional digger or running over the rows of undug potatoes
with the trucks while opening the field with the harvester. This problem is
particularly difficult in areas where the fields are cut up into narrow
strips by irrigation or drainage ditches. The problem can be solved by
mounting at least one bulk body on a two or four wheel trailer with the wheel
tread built to fit the row spacing so the wheels can straddle the undug rows
in "opening" the field (Fig. 11). Trailers have a disadvantage in the time
required to pull them back and forth from the field if tractors are used and
the distance is over about two miles. This difficulty might be overcome by
using a tractor to pull the trailer in the field and a pick-up truck or jeep
to pull it on the road.

Bulk Handling Equipment: Growers use special hopper boxes to handle
potatoes in bulk. Care should be exercised in loading bulk bodies to see
that the loading elevator is operated so that potatoes are not dropped too
far and also are not crushed by the end of the elevator.

The hopper boxes may be equipped with draper chain or rubber covered
belt conveyors for unloading. The draper chain is usually more satisfactory
for it permits some of the soil loaded with the potatoes to fall on the
ground during the unloading process. Some of the rubber belt conveyors have
given trouble from the tendency of loose soil to accumulate under them and
cause them to bind. This might make it necessary to unload the truck by hand.

Boards are placed over the conveyor in the body before it.is filled with
potatoes (Fig. 2). In unloading, the conveyor is driven by an electric motor.
Starting at the rear of the body, the boards are removed one at a time which
allows the potatoes to roll down on the conveyor. The boards should not be
removed too quickly as this may allow too many potatoes to roll down on the
conveyor and stop it. The speed of the conveyor should be controlled by a
speed reduction unit (Fig. 13) and a clutch or remote control switch so it
can be run at a speed to deliver a volume of potatoes geared to the capacity
of the packing line. In most of the operations observed in 1953, the





-36-


Fig. 10.- On this harvester paired rollers or belts rotating toward each other pull some of the
vines, grass, and weeds out of the stream of material flowing over the harvester.


Fig. 11.- A bulk body mounted on a trailer can be used to open fields or "lands" without running
over the undug potatoes.


is
,t~~r` '"" ~~c~E~ii






-37-


conveyors in the hopper bodies were geared to run too fast. This often made
it necessary to start and stop them many times in unloading.

Receiving conveyors at the packinghouse: Observations in many of the
packinghouses indicated that too little attention had been paid to unloading
the potatoes when handled in bulk. Often a considerable amount of damage
was done at this point. Equipment for receiving the potatoes varied from
draper chain and rubberized belt conveyors (Fig. 3) to hoppers from which
the potatoes were carried to the washer by means of an elevator (Fig. 12).
The distance the potatoes were allowed to fall usually increased as the truck
unloaded because of the rising action of the springs as the weight was
removed* The distance of the fall should be kept to a minimum and some
protection should be provided for the potatoes as they fall. Provisions
also should be made for raising the height of the receiving elevator to
compensate for the change in height of the bulk body as it is unloaded
(Fig. 12).

Conveyors for receiving potatoes from the trucks should be situated so
that two loads of potatoes may be placed in the unloading position at the
same time. There also should be two electric motors for pulling the conveyor
in the bulk body. This is necessary so time will not be lost while the empty
body is pulled out and the loaded body placed in position and readied for
unloading. Conveyors should be long enough to provide space for workers to
pick out clods and trash carried in the trucks*

Some growers have experienced difficulty in unloading because there was
a variation in the height of the bulk bodies from the ground because some
trucks had higher chassis than others. This difficulty can be overcome by
using different width channel irons or junior I beams between the truck
chassis and the frame of the bulk body so all bodies will be approximately
the same height from the ground. This makes it possible to keep the fall
of the potatoes from the trucks to the receiving conveyor to a minimum.

Miscellaneous: It should be pointed out that many things entirely
separate from the mechanical equipment affect the effectiveness of its
operation. A good potato harvest starts with the preparation of the seedbed
and planting of good seed stock. Vjith proper spacing of seed and an even
stand the harvest operation will be easier. The potato variety affects the
efficiency of equipment operation. Excessive weeds and grass in the fields
may require so much agitation to knock the soil out of the roots that
excessive mechanical damage results. The practice of vine killing or vine
removal is also important. These factors should be kept in mind by the
farmer planning to use mechanical equipment.


Reducing Injuries to Potatoes

Neither the manufacturer of harvesting equipment nor farmers using the
equipment have given enough attention to the important problem of physical
injuries to potatoes. A substantial reduction can be made in the amount of
damage now occurring in digging and handling potatoes if more attention is
paid to the operation of the equipment and the packinghouses set up properly
for handling potatoes in bulk. To reduce physical injuries, special con-
sideration should be given to the following points.

Digger blade cuts: This damage can be corrected as soon as it appears





-38-


1


Fig. 12.- Unloading a bulk truck into a small hopper. The chain hoist is used to
as the truck body rises in unloading the potatoes.


raise the hopper


Fig. 13.- Unloading a bulk truck with a motor and reduction gear designed to provide the proper
volume of potatoes for the packing equipment being used.






-39- Pil


by setting the digger blade at the proper depth*

Damage due to windrowing and picking up: Practically all of the damage
being done to the potatoes in windrowing can be eliminated by the proper
operation of the digger, shielding the link ends of the digger chain with
rubber belting and placing rubber tubes on each offset-up link of the chain.
The windrower should also be equipped with a rubber covered chain* Since
the potatoes are not to be picked up by hand, the amount of agitation can
be reduced and more soil carried over the chain.

Very little damage is done by the indirect harvester in picking up
potatoes if the window is straight, shallow and in soft, freshly dug earth.
Harvesters picking up by the indirect method should have a pair of shields
extending about 15 inches ahead of the pick-up apron so that the potatoes
to be picked up will be cushioned up ahead of the digger apron and not spill
off to the side of the row.

Damage on the harvester and in bulk loading: Damage on the harvester
is caused mainly by too much agitation on the digger chain, chains being run
at too rapid speed and drops from one conveyor to the next. The most obvious
method of reducing damage on the digger chain is to use the minimum amount of
agitation and the slowest digger chain speed that will result in'satisfactory
separation. Shielding the link ends of the digger chain with belting and
covering the offset-up links with rubber tubing will also help reduce damage.
However, to get separation when the soil is wet it may be necessary to remove
the belting and use a digger chain that is not covered. The amount of
agitation may be regulated by changing the size and type of shakers. Some
of the harvesters are equipped with agitators that can be moved "in" and "out"
so that the amount of agitation can be changed according to conditions.
Controls for regulating the agitators should be conveniently located and
should provide for varying degrees of agitation.

Manufacturers are showing more concern about excessive drops from one
conveyor to the next (Fig. 14) on the harvesters and are reducing the height
of some. However, the farmer can provide additional protection for the
potatoes by covering the links with rubber tubing and padding (Fig. 15) the
sides of conveyors where the potatoes are likely to strike with some force.
The link ends of the various chains should be turned down or shielded to
keep the potatoes from coming into contact with them*

Bulk loaders are often carelessly operated so that potatoes are either
dropped an excessive distance or the end of the loader is allowed to crush
them in loading the truck. Controls for operating the loader should be
located so that the operator has a good view of the load. To obtain the best
coordination between the harvester and the truck being loaded, it is desirable
to use the same person to drive the trucks while they are being loaded and
others to drive them back and forth to the packinghouse.

Damage in unloading and conveying to the washer: Damage in unloading
is usually due to carelessness on the part of the operator, excessive drop
from the bulk body to the receiving conveyor and type of receiving conveyor.
The drop from the unloading to the receiving conveyor should not be over six
inches. Some means should be provided for compensating for the increase in
the distance of fall as the body is emptied. Hoists have been used by some
farmers for this purpose (Fig. 12). The receiving conveyor should be covered
with rubber if it is a rod conveyor. Using flaps on the back of the trucks





-h0-


Fig. 14.- A relatively long drop onto a chain like this causes considerable injury, especially on
easily bruised potatoes. Note the unprotected upturned link ends and sprocket teeth.




























Fig. 15.- An improvised way of reducing injuries to potatoes by adding hose and rubber tubing
to chain links. Rubber tubing made especially for the purpose may be obtained.






-hl-


helps in reducing the amount of damage caused in unloading. All drops from
one conveyor to another should be kept to a minimum and padded. Where there
is a long drop to a rod conveyor or elevator, covering the links with rubber
tubing will help in reducing damage.

At most packinghouses it is necessary to elevate the potatoes from the
receiving conveyor to the washer. Considerable damage may result to the
potatoes because of the amount of roll-back usually due to the elevator being
overloaded or too steep. The amount of roll-back can be decreased by using
an elevator of sufficient capacity and increasing the height of the flights
while decreasing the steepness. In unloading the bulk trucks it is important
that the boards over the conveyor be removed regularly to give an even
delivery rate but not so rapid that the unloading conveyor or other handling
equipment is overloaded.


Safety

Many of the commercial harvesters have been built without adequate
protection for the workers who ride on the machine. As a result some workers
have received fairly severe injuries. Some of the safety precautions that
should be heeded are: (1) shield all rotating shafts, gears, chains and
sprockets, (2) shield all devining rolls so that operators cannot get their
hands, feet or clothing caught, (3) workers should not wear loose or flapping
clothing which might get caught in moving parts of the equipment, (4) safety
features for controlling the operation of moving parts on the machine should
be kept in good working order at all times, and (5) guard rails should be
constructed to give some support for the workers and also to prevent them
from being thrown off the equipment when it is stopped suddenly.






-42-


Table 1 Appendix.- Laborers Used in Handling Potatoes from the Field to the
Washer when Handled in Field Bags and with a Field
Loader and Bulk Equipment, Hastings, Florida, 1952 and
1953.

: Laborers used to handle potatoes
: In field : With bulk :
Item : bags : equipment : Decrease
:(1952) : (1953)
number number number

Laborers furnished by
contractor:
Truck drivers 2 2 -
Helpers 8 4 4

Total 10 6 4

Laborers furnished by
operator:
Dumpers or unloaders 3 1 2
Pick out vines, grass, etc. 2 2 -

Total 5 3 2


Total All Laborers 15


9 6






-43-


Table 2 Appendix.-


Estimated Cost per Acre and per Unit of Loading, Hauling
and Handling Potatoes in Bulk from the Field to the Washer
if Hired Labor and Owned Trucks were Used, Hastings,
Florida, 1953.


: Average per acrel/ : Cost per unit
Item : :Per 100 pound:Per field
:Number: Unit Amount: Rate Cost :packed bag2/ : bagi/
dollars dollars cents cents

Loading and hauling:
Drivers and
helpers 6 hr 3.36 1.00 3.36 1.93 1.10
Use of trucks 3 hr. 1.68 1.50 2.52 1.45 .82
Use of tractor 1 hr. .56 .75 .42 .24 .14
Use of equipment 1.82 1.05 .60

Total 8.12 4.67 2.66

Unloading and handling
to washer:
Unloading 1 hr. .56 .90 -45 .26 15
Removing trash 2 hr. 1.12 .75 .84 .48 .27

Total 1.29 *74 ,42

Grand Total 9.41 5.41 3.08

1/ Based on a rate of harvesting of 16 acres in nine hours.
2/ Based on a yield of 174 100 pound packed bags per acre.
3/ Based on a yield of 306 field bags per acre.






-44-


Table 3 Appendix.- Direct Harvester Make A: Cost per Hour, per Acre and per
100 Pound Packed Bag for Harvesting and Handling Potatoes
with Mechanical Harvester and Bulk Equipment, Alabama,
1953.
: : Cost per hour : Cost per acre :Cost per 100
Item : Rate : : : : :pound packed
S Number Cost : Hours : Cost : bagi/
cents
Roto-cutting:2/
Tractor driver $ .75 1 $ .75 0.5 $ .38 .32
Use of tractor .85 1 .85 0.5 .42 .35
Equipment cost.3/ 2.28 1.14 *95

Total 3.88 1.94 1.62

Operating harvester:4/
Man labor:
Tractor driver .75 1 .75 1.43 1.07 .89
Machine operator 1.00 1 1.00 1.43 1.43 1.19
Other labor .70 3 2.10 4.29 3.00 2.50
Use of tractor 1.00 1 1.00 1.43 1.43 1.19
Equipment cost/ 9.03 12.91 10.76

Total 13.88 19.84 16.53

Hauling potatoes:4/
Truck drivers .75 2 1.50 2.86 2.15 1.79
Use of trucks 1.50 3 4.50 4.29 6.44 5o37
Equipment cost/ 1.76 2.51 2.09

Total 7-76 11.10 9.25
Total Cost of
Digging and Hauling 25.52 32.88 27.40

Unloading and removing trash:5/
Unloading 1.00 1 1.00 .60 .60 .50
Removing trash .70 2 1.40 1.20 .84 .70
Equipment cost./ .17 .10 .08

Total 2.57 1.54 1.28

Grand Total Cost 28.09 34-42 28.68

1/ Based on a yield of 120 packed bags per acre.
2/ Based on a rate of cutting of two acres per hour.
3/ Based on using equipment on 125 acres per year.
4/ Based on rate of harvesting of .7 acre per hour.
5/ Cost of unloading calculated on the basis of 200 packed bags per hour.








Table 4 Appendix.- Direct Harvester Make B: Cost per Hour, per Acre and per
100 Pound Packed Bag for Harvesting and Handling Potatoes
with Mechanical Harvesters and Bulk Equipment, Alabama,
1953.
: : Cost per hour : Cost per acre :Cost per 100
Item : Rate : : : : :pound packed
Number : cost : Hours Cost : bagl/
cents
Roto-cutting:2/
Tractor driver $ .75 1 $ -75 0.5 $ .38 .32
Use of tractor .85 1 .85 0.5 .42 .35
Equipment cost!/ 2.28 1.14 .95

Total 3.88 1.94 1.62
Operating harvester:4/
Man labor:
Tractor driver .75 1 .75 1,18 .88 -73
Machine operator 1.00 1 1.00 1.18 1.18 .98
Other labor .70 7 4.90 8.26 5.78 4.82
Use of tractor 1.00 1 1.00 1.18 1.18 .98
Equipment cost/ 10.03 11.84 9.87

Total 17.68 20.86 17.38
Hauling potatoes:k/
Truck drivers .75 2 1.50 2.36 1.77 1.48
Use of trucks 1.50 3 4.50 3.54 5.31 4.42
Equipment cost/ 2.13 2.51 2.09

Total 8.13 9.59 7-99
Total Cost of
Digging and Hauling 29.69 32.39 26.99
Unloading and removing trash:5/
Unloading 1.00 1 1.00 .60 .60 .50
Removing trash .70 2 1.40 1.20 .84 .70
Equipment cost/ .17 .10 .08

Total 2.57 1.54 1.28
Grand Total Cost 32.26 33.93 28.27
1/ Based on a yield of 120 packed bags per acre.
2/ Based on a rate of cutting of two acres per hour.
3/ Based on using equipment on 125 acres per year.
h/ Based on a rate of harvesting of .85 acre per hour.
5/ Cost of unloading calculated on the basis of 200 packed bags per hour*






-46-


Table 5 Appendix.-


Item


Indirect Harvester Make C: Cost per Hour, per Acre and per
100 Pound Packed Bag for Harvesting and Handling Potatoes
with Mechanical Harvester and Bulk Equipment, Alabama,
1953.


: Rate
.*


Roto-cutting:./
Tractor driver $ .75
Use of tractor .85
Equipment cost/

Total

Digging and windrowing:4/
Tractor driver *75
Use of tractor 1.00
Use of digger
and windrower3/


Total
Operating harvester:5/
Man labor:
Tractor driver -75
Machine operator 1.00
Other labor .70
Use of tractor -85
Use of equipment/

Total
Hauling potatoes:5/
Tractor drivers .75
Use of tractor 1.50
Equipment cost/

Total
Total Cost of
Digging and Hauling


Unloading and removing
Unloading
Removing trash
Equipment cost/
Total


trash:6/
1.00
.70


Grand Total Cost


: Cost per hour : Cost per acre :Cost per 100
: : : : :pound packed
: Number : Cost : Hours Cost bag-/
cents

1 $ .75 0.5 $ .38 .32
1 .85 0.5 .42 .35
2.28 1.1 .995


3.88


.75
1.00
2.68


4.U3


.75
1.00
5.60
.85
5.32


1.50
4.50
2.01

8.01

29.8l4

1.00
1.40
.17
2.57
32.41


1.18
1.18


1.25
1.25
10.00
1.25




2.50
3.75


.60
1.20


1.94


.88
1.18
3.16


5.22


.*9
1.25
7.00
1.06
6.65

16.90

1.88
5.62
2.51

10.01

34.07

.60
.84
.10
1.5U
35.61


1.62


.73
.99
2.63

4.35


.78
1.O4
5.84
.88




1.57
4.68
2.09

8.3U

28.39

.50
*70
.08
1.28
29.67


1/ Based on a yield of 120 packed bags per acre.
V/ Based on a rate of cutting of two acres per hour.
3/ Based on using equipment on 125 acres per year.
/Based on a rate of digging of .85 acre per hour.
/ Based on a rate of harvesting of .8 acre per hour.
5/ Cost of unloading calculated on basis of 200 packed bags per hour.


SI






-47-


Table 6 Appendix.- Usual Method of Harvesting: Cost per Hour, per Acre and
per 100 Pound Packed Bag for Harvesting and Handling
Potatoes in the Conventional Manner, Alabama, 1953.
: :Cost per hour : Cost per acre :Cost per 100
Item : Rate : : :pound packed
S : Number : Cost : Hours : Cost : bag!/
cents
Roto-cutting:2/
Tractor driver $ .75 1 $ .75 0.5 $ .38 .32
Use of tractor .85 1 .85 0.5 .42 .35
Equipment cost/ 2.28 1.14 .95

Total 3.88 1.94 1.62

Digging potatoes:4/
Tractor driver .75 1 .75 1.18 .88 .73
Use of tractor 1.00 1 1.00 1.18 1.18 .99
Use of digger!3/ 2.13 2.51 2.09

Total 3.88 4.57 3.81

Picking up, checking and loading:5/
Labor .21 25.20 21.00
Picking bags and
picking containers/ 2.25 1.87

Total 27.45 22.87

Hauling potatoes:5/
Contract hauling .09 1/ 10.80 9.00

Total Digging and
Hauling 44.76 37.30
Unloading and removing trash:6/
Unloading 1.00 2 2.00 1.20 1.20 1.00
Removing trash .70 2 1.40 1.20 .84 .70
Total 3.40 2.04 1.70
Grand Total Cost 46.80 39.00

I/ Based on a yield of 120 packed bags per acre.
/ Based on a rate of cutting two acres per hour.
3/ Based on using equipment on 125 acres per year.
4/ Based on a rate of digging of .85 acre per hour.
5/ Most farmers contracted the picking up, checking, loading and hauling at
30 cents per 100 pound packed bag. For sake of comparison this cost was
divided 70 percent for picking up, checking and loading and 30 percent
for hauling.
6/ Cost of unloading potatoes calculated on the basis of 200 packed bags
per hour.


Ag. Exp. Sta., 1/15/54
RELG:le 1,000 copies




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