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Need to lift plastic mulch? No problem

With fall just around the corner, there’s likely farmers out there dreading the task of picking up the plastic mulch that helped their produce crops flourish this spring and summer. Picking up plastic mulch by hand is dirty, strenuous and time-consuming.

At Pine Valley Farms in Rochester Mills, Pa., Jeff and Kegan Wright plan to get their 21 acres of mulch lifted and rolled in less than 13 hours using CropCares PR2500, also known as the Plastic Mulch Lifter/Wrapper.

Hand-lifting and hand-rolling is no longer necessary with the Plastic Mulch Lifter/Wrapper, an advanced piece of farming equipment that recovers 2,000 feet of plastic at speeds of 3-5 miles per hour.

It helps Pine Valley Farms save hours when pulling drip tape out of 5-6 inches of dirt at the end of the season.

“We used it for the first time last year and we lifted 17 acres in 13 hours,” said Kegan. Controlling each spool, especially in heavy vines, presented a bit of a learning curve, “but it works fantastic. It will go faster this year.”

The machine helped save at least 50 percent of the labor cost on a berry farm in Florida. Florida Pacific Farms, where 350 acres of strawberries and 40 acres of blueberries are grown, recently used two PR2500 machines to pick up plastic mulch. Read more here.

For Pine Valley Farms, Jeff was reluctant to purchase the equipment initially, but Kegan convinced him. “It saved our sore arms and back,” Jeff said. He does not regret it.

“It worked in all kinds of conditions – moist, dry, normal. Last year, it was extremely wet, and usually plastic is hard to get up in those conditions,” Kegan said, “but it came right up.” The plastic mulch did tear a few times, where quack grass grew. “But quack grass is always an issue, whether lifting by hand or machine. Drip tape was not an issue.”

Kegan is the 5th generation at Pine Valley Farms, which has been in the family for more than 100 years. It started as a grain farm, and then Kegan’s great-grandfather grew a bit of produce, and then a “really big garden, and then Grandpa grew a little bit bigger garden, and then Mom and Dad expanded that, and then I really expanded it.”

Today, Pine Valley Farms grows a variety of produce and will pull 1-mil plastic mulch from cucumbers, pumpkins, winter squash, pepper, watermelon, and cantaloupe this fall after the first killing frost. It will be a quick task with the PR2500.

“It’s an awesome piece of equipment. It really saved us money, labor and time,” Jeff added.