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Presque Isle: The Star City

Harvesting Potatoes

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Potato Picker's Basket, Presque Isle, ca. 1940
Potato Picker's Basket, Presque Isle, ca. 1940

Item Contributed by
Presque Isle Historical Society

After the potatoes are laid onto the row by the digger, the potato picker would first fill a basket such as the one pictured here. The potatoes would be picked from a section of the field allotted to the picker.

If the section is too long, the picker would get behind and probably would get discouraged. The unpicked potatoes would be in the way of the truck passing through to unload empty barrels or to pick up full ones. If the section is too short, the potato picker would not have the number of full barrels wanted by the end of the day. It is important that the section is not too long or too short.

Once the basket is full, it is dumped into a nearby barrel. It takes about four baskets of potatoes to fill a barrel. A full basket will weigh about 30 pounds. The basket pictured here is 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter and 8 inches (20 cm) deep. Baskets were made locally, usually by Native Americans. The strips of wood used to make these baskets came from ash trees.