Cultivation/Production, Equipment/Technology, Most viewed stories, News May 2024, North America, Smart Farming

Top five tips to keeping your harvester digging this fall

When crisp autumn air start to descend upon the fields, farmers across North America gear up for one of the most critical phases of the agricultural calendar: the potato harvest. Amidst the anticipation of bountiful yields and bustling activity, there looms a pivotal question that weighs heavily on the minds of farmers: will their trusty potato harvester rise to the occasion as a beacon of reliability, or will it falter under the strain, leaving a trail of frustration and disappointment in its wake?

In the pursuit of a successful harvest, the role of the potato harvester cannot be overstated. It stands as a cornerstone of efficiency, tirelessly working to unearth the fruits of the season’s labor. Yet, like any piece of machinery, its performance is contingent upon one critical factor: maintenance. Neglecting the care and upkeep of the harvester is akin to courting disaster, inviting breakdowns and disruptions that can spell disaster in the midst of the harvest frenzy.

In this brief guide, we delve into the essential practices and principles of potato harvester maintenance, offering insights gleaned from years of experience in the field. From proactive preparation to post-harvest care, each tip serves as a beacon of wisdom, guiding farmers towards the path of uninterrupted productivity and peace of mind.

Join us as we explore the top five tips for keeping your potato harvester digging this fall, ensuring that it remains not just a mere machine, but a steadfast ally in the quest for agricultural excellence.

Tip 1: Prepare for success

Your harvester will only perform well if it is ready for success. Carefully inspect, lubricate and test your machine enough in advance of harvest that you can fix any outstanding issues with time to spare.

A successful harvest hinges on the readiness of your potato harvester. Start your preparations well in advance of the harvest season by conducting a comprehensive assessment of your equipment. Check all moving parts, including belts, chains, and bearings, for signs of wear or damage. Lubricate components as needed to ensure smooth operation during harvest.

By investing time in preparation, you can identify and address any issues before they escalate, minimizing downtime and maximizing efficiency when it counts the most.

Tip 2: Change your mindset

Once harvest begins and every hour counts, making time to clean and inspect equipment daily can feel like an impossible cost. However, maintaining your harvester during harvest will ultimately save you time, money and frustration. Yes, in-field breakdowns happen to everyone. However, they happen far less to farmers who clean, maintain and best support their equipment all year, especially during harvest.

After each day of digging, clean off mud and vines. Inspect chain webs, watching for bent rods, broken rivets, and worn connector clips/rods. Check web apron drive sprockets and bearings for excessive wear. Test rollers for smooth rolling: rust and vines can cause strain and drag. Check and tighten all roller chains. Check U-joints, greasing and replacing as necessary.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of harvest, it’s easy to prioritize the immediate tasks at hand over routine maintenance. However, neglecting your harvester’s upkeep can have costly repercussions down the line. Take the time to clean and inspect your equipment daily, even when time is scarce. Clear away mud and debris to prevent buildup and assess vital components for signs of wear or damage.

By integrating maintenance into your daily routine, you can prevent minor issues from snowballing into major headaches, ultimately saving time, money, and frustration.

Tip 3: Give extra TLC

Difficult harvest conditions aren’t only hard on farmers: they’re hard on equipment too. Mud strips lubrication, stretches aprons, pulls on every sprocket, rod and chain, and ages equipment before its time. Inspect extra carefully in wet conditions: components that wouldn’t wear out in dry conditions will wear quickly in muddy ground. And, remember that rollers and U-joints will need extra lubrication in heavy conditions.

Unforgiving harvest conditions can place undue stress on your potato harvester, accelerating wear and tear on critical components. Take extra precautions when operating in wet or muddy fields, as these conditions can exacerbate equipment deterioration. Inspect your harvester more frequently in adverse conditions, paying particular attention to areas prone to wear.

Keep rollers and U-joints well-lubricated to minimize friction and extend their lifespan. By providing your harvester with the extra care it needs, you can ensure reliable performance throughout the harvest season.

Tip 4: Done? Not quite…

Before you take a well-earned moment to breathe out post-harvest, give your machine the care it needs. Brushing off loose dirt and vines is preferable to washing before storing as a wet machine may not dry enough in cool conditions, potentially causing rust.

As you clean, write a list of anything that needs fixing/replacing. Having a list handy allows you to easily jump on wintertime parts specials so you won’t be scrambling pre-harvest next year. Pay extra attention to checking hoses and seals. Loosen your slip clutches so they don’t rust tight over the winter. Inspect slip clutch pads; replace if necessary.

The conclusion of harvest season marks the beginning of a new phase in harvester maintenance. Before stowing your equipment away for the winter, take proactive steps to ensure its longevity. Begin by thoroughly cleaning your harvester, removing any traces of dirt and debris accumulated during the harvest. Take note of any components that require attention or replacement.

By compiling a detailed list of maintenance tasks, you can effectively plan for off-season repairs and capitalize on wintertime specials, setting the stage for a successful harvest next year.

Tip 5: Store properly!

When it comes to preserving the integrity of your harvester, proper storage is paramount. Indoor storage provides the optimal environment for safeguarding your equipment against the elements, minimizing the risk of corrosion and deterioration. By investing in indoor storage facilities, you can protect your harvester from the ravages of winter weather, ensuring it emerges unscathed and ready for action when the next harvest season rolls around.

To safeguard your potato harvester for future use, proper storage is essential. Indoor storage offers the best protection against the harsh elements, shielding your equipment from moisture, rust, and other forms of corrosion. Prioritize securing indoor storage facilities for your harvester, ensuring it remains in optimal condition during the offseason.

By taking proactive measures to store your harvester properly, you can prolong its lifespan and preserve its performance for years to come.

Author: Darren Demers, LOCKWOOD Regional Salesman ND/MN
Cover image: Credit LOCKWOOD

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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