Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wow! Its Cherry Harvesting

Cherry, very delicious fruit and I bet most of the people likes it. Today I'll show you how cherry is harvested.

In summer 2007, I took a Field Plant Pathology course. The course was excellent and very helpful to understand basic plant pathology from the application perspective. During the course students were taken to several places like golf course, nursery, forests, cranberry farm, cherry farm etc. In one of the trip we went to Wisconsin peninsula from Saint Paul, Minnesota. We went to several farms on the way to peninsula.

The cherry farm was located in southern part of peninsula. We went looking for diseases of cherry plants. One of the interesting part during the visit was the cherry harvesting. I was surprised to see the machine used for harvest. Its called a 'shaker'. From the name you can imagine how it will harvest cherry - by shaking. When the shaker is in full action it looks like something alien. You can see shaker and its action in the video. It has a folding disc like structure, which wraps around the trunk of the tree. Disc cover the area below the canopy. Then the mechanical vibrator shakes whole tree, which cause cherries to drop into that disc like structure. A belt mover attached to the disc structure moves cherries to the bucket attached to the end of the machine. When those big buckets are full, they are taken away by loader.

Initially I was surprised, how all cherries are harvested at the same time, as you know not all fruits in a tree mature at the same time. To avoid multiple harvesting, farmers have a technique. They apply 'ethylene', a hormone which is responsible for breaking of leaves from tree or falling of fruits/vegetables when mature. Ethylene is sprayed 2 weeks before harvesting, which make all cherries vulnerable to movement like shaking. Then when the shaker shakes tree vigorously, all cherries fall down. What a thoughtful technique! While returning from the farm, generous owner gave us token of a bucketful of free sweet cherry! Wasn't it nice?


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