By Erik Biksa
Proven and Valuable Harvesting Tips
Harvest season is a busy time for growers. The tendency is to focus on crop quality through the growing process, although experts know through experience that how the crop is handled post-harvest contributes to the bottom line. Crop trimming machines are well known for saving big on labor time required to trim excess foliage from delicate and valuable cut flowers and herbs, for example.
But what about quality?
Lets have a look at several ways you can improve your harvest efficiency this season (or through the year) through proven harvesting management tips. We’ll also circle back to automatic trimmers, and have a look at a couple of innovative solutions that fit the bill nicely.
- Have a clear chain of handling planned BEFORE you start to harvest, walk yourself through the process before getting started; this saves time and money later, especially if hiring help.
- Make sure if hiring others to help that they are accountable and reliable—don’t let one bad apple ruin your success; it can and does happen.
- Keep the atmosphere professional, positive and productive; it shouldn’t turn into a party-this is serious and important in recapturing all your investment of time and money.
- Ensure everyone helping is completely clear on their role in the process and what you expect of them before they get started; it helps if you can have more experienced workers take those with less experience under their watchful eye initially because you can’t watch everyone all the time.
- Keep everybody as comfortable and happy as possible; upbeat music like reggae, healthy snacks and meals (pizza will slow them down, for example) are a must—have all of this ready ahead of time.
- Have people randomly show up and leave; make sure everyone knows what time things will start and when they are expected to stay until—no uninvited guests is a good rule too
- Allow people with baggy clothes, untied hair, etc to work near machinery—this is a serious accident waiting to happen
- Run out of supplies: nitrile gloves, extra shears or clippers, spray on vegetable oil (for cleaning or keeping machines from gumming up), fresh drinking water, bins, drying lines or racks
- Allow harvested material to be handled roughly or carelessly—it’s very valuable, and make sure everyone else understands this
- Sit on the side lines; lead by example—if you work hard, everyone else will feel obliged to follow suit
How much time can they save?
As an example, indoor growers can harvest and trim 20 lights worth of crop in 8 hours, to perfection, with a crew of 3 people. Often the flow chain bottlenecks with handling and feeding the machine—the machine is rarely the limitation for how fast.
Do they do a good job?
Some machines do excellent trimming, with smaller flowers even better than can be done by hand. Any extra-large blue ribbon type flowers are often set aside for hand trimming. About 90% of what you harvest, typically, will look as good or even better coming out of a high quality trimmer versus by hand.
TIP: Look for machines with a high degree of adjustability, like The Twister Series (T2 & T4). This way you can dial it in for the shape and size of the flowers you harvest, as well as balance the closeness of trim to the rate at which you want to finish the job
Is there any loss in essential oils?
Slightly. Testing shows that you may sacrifice up to 2% of surface plant oils from the flower’s surface. Keep in mind this can be recovered from the machines and used to for extracts, potpourri, baking, etc.
Are they expensive?
While price is much higher than scissors, how much you save in labor costs usually makes up for the capital outlay the very first time you use it, depending somewhat on the scale of your gardening endevours. The bigger you crop, the better a deal it is for you.