Vegetable harvest gets gathering capacity

A North Dakota company’s big carts make it possible for producers to keep the crop flowing when they need it most

Keeping the crop flowing was the impetus for a big cart solution for softer crops.

Big carts for grains and oilseeds took a page from the American Midwest a decade ago, where softer soils, heavier grain and a need for field efficiencies that kept combines rolling no matter how big the crop dominated the scene.

STP Manufacturing’s Crop Shuttle moves from seeding tender to harvest helper with only a few changes.

The units, built in Park River, North Dakota, fill a niche in the crop-handling market for sugar beets, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, beets and corn silage.

Jacob Kringstad of the company said having the versatility of the unit means that producers can potentially make use of the chain-belt, active floor trailer three months of the year.

“And it doesn’t need a (power take-off) to drive hydraulics. It uses tractor hydraulics… due to the gentle handling system,” said Kringstad.

“You can run the tractor at more efficient rpm rather than needing all that power as you do in other equipment needing (to drive a pump),” he said.

In harvesting mode the Crop Shuttle provides an easy cleanout cart for vegetable crops. | STP Manufacturing photo

Ross McShane of STP said the company has been expanding its market and Western Canada “is right next door and was a good fit for the product. You get what higher capacity is all about,” he said.

The carts are 36-, 46- and 56-ton units and to carry those loads are only offered with tracked chassis. Camso, from Quebec, or Elmer’s Manufacturing tracks are used, with Elmer’s being standard on the biggest carts.

“It’s necessary to keep compaction, especially in those darker soils, to a minimum. At the same time farmers want the capacity that keeps their field operations moving,” said McShane.

“We initially designed them for those often mucky sugar beet harvests,” he said.

Kringstad said unloading without damaging the crops is critical.

Producers can use the machine in the spring as a seed potato tender. | STP Manufacturing photo

“We can unload potatoes in 60 to 90 seconds,” he said.

Rather than move the eight-foot-wide active floor when unloading, the steeply sided tank lifts as a unit, carried by a pair of hydraulic rams. For muddier crops the drag bed is self-cleaning, “it keeps mud scraping to a minimum,” he said.

For softer crops, such cucumbers or potatoes, a rubber-belted floor can be used with a seal kit that prevents the crop from encountering any chains. For those crops an optional, hydraulically actuated side door is offered, reducing bruising.

Scotts Evolution or Digger gear can be optionally fitted to keep up to “six or seven tons” of soil in the field, when handling potatoes.

The base units cost between US$160,000 and $300,000, with options potentially adding significantly to the price. “But it means it’s flexible, based on what each producer needs,” said Kringstad.

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