Keeping Unwanted Foreign Material Out of Your Crop

Published online: Sep 10, 2021 Articles, Potato Harvesting Idaho Potato Commission
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Harvest time is here, and ensuring the quality of the harvested crop is paramount. One important but often overlooked quality aspect of the crop is the lack of foreign material associated with the incoming crop. Foreign material is any material that is not the actual potato tuber. It is "trash" or "garbage" associated with the crop. Examples may include bones, aluminum cans, metal, used irrigation parts, golf balls, cell phones, gloves … the list can be endless. Many foreign materials originate in the field, but others enter the product stream through equipment and during storage and handling.

Some of the basics of a foreign material reduction program include cleaning trucks, picking up garbage in and around fields, educating employees on identifying and removing foreign material, having accessible garbage cans near employees, and cleaning and running a magnet through the storage. Utilize available harvest and handling equipment to reduce debris, corn cobs/crowns, rocks and other foreign material from the crop.

Whether potatoes are destined for the fresh market or processing, foreign material is a great concern to the potato industry. Minimizing foreign material in the field, storage, and the processing plant and fresh pack facility can help maintain a high-quality product, safe standards, and consumer confidence.

Here are two ways to help educate employees at harvest via watching Educational videos and posters are availaable at

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