Fall Harvest: Maximizing Efficiency With Your Compact Tractor

Did you spend the sweltering summer months toiling in the sun to ensure your crops reached their full potential? Then fall’s harvest season is the payoff you’ve been waiting for. If you want to get the most out of everything you’ve been growing, a compact tractor will go a long way in reaching that goal. Read on to learn how to maximize your efficiency, and get some bonus tips for harvest success.

Using Your Compact Tractor for Fall Harvest

A compact tractor is a versatile machine that can make light work of many tasks, including harvesting crops and preparing the land for next season’s planting. If you want to work efficiently this fall, here are a few ways to utilize your tractor for the harvest.

Use Your Loader

When harvest time arrives, your tractor’s front-end loader will save you a lot of heavy lifting. Our popular SA Series tractors offer up to 1,200 lbs of lift capacity at the pivot pin, while the larger YT3 Series provides as much as 2,500 lbs. There are many ways to take advantage of this power, including:

  • Carry your crops. When your crops are ready to be harvested, take your tractor with you. You can fill up the bucket as you go, saving you from making trips back and forth with smaller containers.
  • Distribute feed. If you have livestock on your property, there are likely numerous locations where you need to deliver feed on a regular basis. A compact tractor will provide an efficient method for delivery so you’re not hauling by hand.
  • Load your truck. Whether you’re sharing with neighbors or heading to the farmer’s market, your tractor can help load your truck, allowing you to pack and distribute produce in a fraction of the time.

Clean Up Gardens

Picking crops is just one half of the fall harvest equation. Once that piece is complete, there are fields and garden beds that need cleanup. Even with a few acres, this can become a daunting task without some mechanical assistance. Fortunately, Yanmar compact tractors offer several tillage attachments that will help you break up tough root structures and work amendments like compost and fertilizer into the soil for a head start come spring.

Build a Compost Pile

A successful growing season is bound to leave you with a lot of excess plant material. Leverage these leftovers to your advantage and use your tractor to create a compost pile. 

To get started, identify the space where you want to create the pile. Then, build a base layer composed of straw or twigs to provide drainage. With this foundation in place, begin adding alternating layers of brown materials (leaves, wood chips, pine needles) and green materials (grass, weeds, plant stalks). From here, all you need to do is keep the pile moist and turn it every few weeks as the material breaks down into valuable nutrients.

Plant a Cover Crop

After you’ve harvested your crops and cleaned up garden beds, you don’t want to leave those spaces bare all winter. Volatile weather and wind can wash away your valuable topsoil and cause damaging soil erosion. Instead of starting from scratch in the spring, plant a cover crop for protection. Grasses and legumes are both popular choices that provide benefits like limiting weed growth, retaining moisture, and improving soil composition.

5 Tips for Harvesting Crops in Fall

With an understanding of the many ways a compact tractor can help increase your productivity, you can focus on making sure your fall harvest is of the highest quality. Use these tips to get the most out of the produce you’ve been growing all summer.

Understand Your Timelines

When it comes to harvesting crops, timing is everything. As a general rule of thumb, fruits and vegetables should be picked in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. However, some need to be picked right away, while others can rest on the plant for longer. Crops such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers should be harvested as soon as they’re ripe to avoid over-maturing and losing flavor.

Harvest Frequently

If you want the most bountiful yield possible, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time in the field harvesting. This is because many plants will stop producing fruits and vegetables when they go unpicked. This signals to the plant the growth is complete and energy will be diverted to other survival needs instead. For maximum output, plan to pick daily.

Store Appropriately

After you’ve invested so much hard work in growing your crops, you don’t want anything to go to waste. Understand the best ways to store different kinds of fruits and vegetables to increase their lifespan and quality. Here are a few general tips to get you started:

  • Most crops should be stored indoors, out of direct sunlight. Continued exposure means continued ripening that can lead to wilting or rotting.
  • Inspect all of your crops carefully before storage. Blemished items will mold more easily, while just one diseased crop can spread and spoil the entire bunch.
  • Many types of squash and root vegetables can be stored for months, but require a cool, dark, and dry location. Basements or cellars usually provide an ideal environment.

Monitor the Frost

All it takes is one frost to destroy an entire summer’s worth of work. At 29 F to 32 F, the majority of tender plants like peppers and tomatoes will die off. Drop that down to 24 F and you can expect almost a total loss of everything in the garden. Carefully monitor the weather and know historical frost dates. Farmer’s Almanac also offers a helpful tool that provides first and last frost dates based on your ZIP code.

Take Notes for Next Year

Growing crops is a process, with an opportunity to learn something new each year. Throughout the season, take careful notes about what is/isn’t working, features of the land, weather patterns, and anything else you notice. This will allow you to adjust accordingly and perfect your future fall harvests.

Connect With Yanmar

At Yanmar, we offer much more than tractors. We’re a comprehensive resource for landowners, and can help with everything from advice on starting a hobby farm to the must-have attachments needed to simplify your toughest jobs. No matter the need, our team is standing by. Please don’t hesitate to connect with us online or give us a call at 678-551-7369.

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