Harvesting Procedures

Since dry fruit is less likely to develop decay in storage, harvest when the dew is off the fruit. To minimize bruising, remove bumps and holes in the drive row. Locate bins close to the pickers to reduce the walking distance.

Apple picker with picking bucket
A picking bucket used for harvesting apples, pears, peaches and plums.

The picking bag or bucket is the most common tool for harvesting and carrying fruit from the tree to the bin or box. They have adjustable canvas straps that encircle the upper body and arms and hold the bucket at chest height. To allow fruit to be emptied into a bin with minimal movement of the fruit, a canvas bottom opens when its straps are detached. They generally hold 1/2 to 1 bushel of apples and are adjustable. Padding on the inside can also reduce bruising.

Considerable bruising can occur during harvest if pickers are not trained. Review picking procedures routinely. To pick apples, hold them with the palm of the hand using the fingers as little as possible. Finger pressure commonly causes small bruises. Fruit are more easily removed when the stem is snapped off by “rolling” the apple upward. The stem is more easily detached when it snapped in one direction than in the opposite, a practice that is best learning by experience. After picking, fruit should be placed in the bucket, never dropped. Minimize the distance that pickers use to can carry fruit to bins and boxes. Prepare the orchard floor by eliminating holes, ruts and other uneven ground.

Set up the harvest and transport of fruit in a way that minimizes movement. A multiple bin or box carrier such as a flatbed trailer pulled by a tractor is a common method for moving apples from the orchard to the packing house or farm market.

Apple bins on a flat-bed trailer.
Apple bins on a flat-bed trailer.
bins of apples on a flat-bed trailer
Apple bins on a flat-bed trailer.

Plums in a cardboard box
Fruit in a cardboard box for transporting and marketing soft fruit.
bushel boxes filled with apples
Bushel boxes filled with apples.

Quart-sized container filled with plums
Quart-sized containers for displaying soft fruit.