If you are a long time reader of this blog you will know I tell some version of this same story every year around this time.
This 1st photo is the view from my outdoor office - a great sight- the first full truck load of kiwifruit bins heading off down our drive to travel across town to the Coolstore.( at 10.10 am )
This shows some of the pickers arriving and ready to work The light tells you it is early morning. In the fore ground is a bin trailer with 3 empty bins We has 4 tractos each towing a bin trailer like this. One tractor wasn't up to it so My trusty Fergie was used for the day.( I have noticed how many times it seemed to get itself into my photographs! )
Anyone coming into or leaving the orchard must disinfect footwear in the red bowl, spray the inside of your picking bag and squeeze disinfectant onto the hands and if picking or levelling bins wear a new pair of cotton picking gloves.
We started picking on the furthest away block. Here the tractors set of to start. One has a smoky start. As so many tractors are needed at picking time all manner of tractors get used. ( some old dungers! ) usually the driver is NOT the owner of the tractor.
Each time full bins are unloaded from the bin trailer the tractor then has to back into the stack and have 3 empty bins flipped down onto the trailer and slid forward on the rollers.
Pickers at work and the tractor driver giving a hand. He has to watch that they don't overfill the bins, don't damage the fruit and needs to move the tractor along to keep pace with the pickers so they don't have to walk far with a full bag.
Note this is my tractor...with it's new seat, so Stephen this driver has a comfortable ride. One other driver had a wet seat for the entire day - I don't think that is fair - the owner of that tractor who hires it out for picking time needs to put a new seat in. The ripped one had soaked up rain and as it was sponge rubber, gave off moisture all day long. Even though I gave the driver a folded up towel to sit on it was soaked by the end of the day. I wish he had made more fuss cause I could have found something water proof like a fert sack to sit on. ( I will follow that up - someone has to )
The 2 with reflective vests on are drivers, but they always give a hand( so wear picking gloves )
There were a few lady pickers in the gang.
This is how much they carry in one bag. That's what makes it a tiring job especially on ones neck. )Also see how the bottom of the bag unlatches down so the fruit can roll gently out.
This was the only slight hold up when one tractor needed running repairs. There was a smooth operation all day. Plenty of empty bins on hand ; trucks back and forth with each load. I saw we were going to be touch and go on the number of printed bin cards they had sent so ordered more for the truckie to bring back on his next load. A good call as we needed 6 of them in the end.
2 vital people; the truckie tying down the load and the forklift driver loading the full bins and unloading the empty bins as they arrive. Both veyr good at their jobs and pleasant to work with.
This is picking the last block ( the small one nearest the loading area ) very late in the afternoon. Everyone wanted the job finished in the day so pickers who had finished at other orchards poured in for the last half hour to give a hand. We had 43 pickers; a record number, but it helped complete the job. Note how late it is getting by the light.
The final 3 bins get slid from the trailer at 5.30 pm.
Everyone and every tractor and bin trailer must be cleaned down before leaving our orchard for the next one tomorrow.Disinfectatnt under pressure for the machinery.( not the pickers )
245 bins ( 18 bushell size ) were harvested. That's one more than last year. This fruit in it's bins will now be loaded into a controlled atmosphere coolstore along with 3 other grower's fruit and sealed for a couple of months with reduced oxygen ( to stop it ripening ), then later got out and grded and packed into tray before export .
Well done everyone. And Thank you for a long day's work.
( all photos enlarge by clicking )