The windrower is the first machine to pass over the potato crop and it is operated on our farm by John Thompson. It is a digging machine that piles up potatoes for the harvester. It digs up four rows of potatoes and leaves them into one single row. As it digs the potatoes, any weeds, rocks and large clumps of soil are moved by a large belt behind the machine where they are not in the way of the harvester. The windrower also cleans some of the dirt off the potatoes
I became curious as to the origin of the name for this piece of farm equipment so I did a little research. I learned that a “windrow” is “a long line of material heaped up by the wind or by a machine.” (online dictionary) So our potatoes are piled in a “windrow” by the “windrower.” Interestingly enough, although the name typically refers to rows of cut hay or grain crops, it also is the official name for the piles of snow left at the end of your driveway after the snow plow has cleared the road. Now you know!
If you would like to see a video of the windrower, you can visit the installment of The Common-Tater called “The Potato Windrower.”