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Tips To Lowering Bruise Rates – It’s A Full Season Process

Before Planting

• Select fields that are best suited for growing potatoes and are free from excessive rocks.  Investigate the soil conditioning technics presently adopted throughout Europe, if unavoidable.

• Avoid tillage practices that create clods that will not break down during the growing season.  Rotary tillage methods prevent clods in clod prone soils.


During the Growing Season

• Use a balanced fertility program to keep vines green until shortly before top-kill.


Pre-harvest Preparation

• Train all harvest personnel about bruise prevention.

• Install padded chains on harvesting and handling equipment, and replace when worn.

• Adjust harvester chain conveyor speed in relation to ground speed to maintain a full, uniform flow of potatoes on each conveyor.

• Install padding on the harvester at points where potatoes may be bruised.

• Adjust digger blade height on harvesters and windrowers so potatoes do not bump into the front of the primary chain.



• Kill the vines fourteen to twenty-one days before harvest to allow the skins to properly mature.

• Use mechanical toppers for stubborn – hard to kill vines.

• Apply a pre-harvest irrigation at least one week before digging to soften clods and rehydrate tubers.



• Harvest potatoes only when tuber pulp temperatures are 8°C to 20°C (45°F to 65°F).

• Keep drops to a minimum, adjust web transfers for optimal drop level.

• Avoid using web shakers to separate soil and clods on windrower & harvester.

• Check potato touched areas within harvester and ensure all controllable bruise points are changed (hex bolt heads to round head bolts, exposed guard edges etc.)

• Keep harvester boom close to the pile on the truck.

• Do not walk on potatoes while putting on the tarp.


At the Storage

• Pile potatoes in a stair-step manner to prevent roll down on the pile face.

• Keep drops to a minimum.

• Maintain high humidity in storage unless drying is required to control rot problems such as late blight

or water rot.



Paul Smith is the owner of Northern Equipment Solutions and based in Central Ontario, Canada. Providing Quality Potato Equipment, Precision Agriculture and Other Advanced Equipment, Northern Equipment Solutions ensures that your profits and yields are maximized. www.northernequipment.ca or sales@northernequipment.ca

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Comment by Iain Robson on December 17, 2012 at 2:09pm

One of the disadvantages might the fact that you have to get another piece of equipment, which isn't primarily in Canada. Are toppers available in Canada? If so, what makes are good to look at?

Also, what is the advantage of harvesting potatoes green? I don't know all the ins and outs sorry.

Comment by Paul Smith on December 17, 2012 at 1:17pm

Mechanically killing the tops does 2 things

1- Removes the tops if the spuds are to be dug green and place the vines away from the harvested area allowing for a cleaner harvest, therefore your cleaning section does not need to be set so aggressive, so it will bruise less

2- With some varieties that are stubborn to kill off the vines, mechanical topping will help and make so you will not have to do multiple top kill sprays

Comment by Iain Robson on December 17, 2012 at 8:54am

@Paul Smith

What is the advantage of mechanically topping plants?

Comment by Paul Smith on December 17, 2012 at 7:59am


A tried and true product is Reglone, which is usually applied twice, to help promote skin set and improve tuber general health.

Ontario growers are starting use a European method of topping the vines mechanically, and then if needed an application of reglone is used

Comment by Iain Robson on December 17, 2012 at 7:41am

Great information. 

For top killing you mentioned to spray 21 days before harvest, what type of spray would you recommend for that ?

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