Jealous Fruits Implements Night Picking Amidst High Temperatures
CANADA - Mother Nature is not one to be messed with, and she has proven this tenfold with an onslaught of record-breaking heat sweeping across North America. With temperatures posing challenges to harvest operations, Jealous Fruits has implemented an inventive strategy to minimize the impacts: night picking. Having kicked off on July 16, the supplier’s strategy is in full swing and is already showing positive results.
“Our pickers are very happy with working in the coolest part of the day, delighted with the longer shift, and love the opportunity to increase their earnings,” Jealous Fruits stated in a recent media release. “The shift runs from midnight until 9 a.m., with the possibility to extend an hour if needed. This equates to a 9 to 10 hour daily picking shift. In contrast, day shift picking is from 5 a.m. until noon at latest, for a maximum of 7 hours picking time. Since our harvest is only 7 weeks long, it is very important for our picking staff to maximize their earnings. Of course, it is also critically important that we harvest all our cherries at optimum maturity, keeping our harvest on schedule.”
According to the release, Jealous ran a night picking trial in 2020 with 90 pickers, which produced significant improvements in worker morale, earnings, and cherry quality.
The company equips its pickers with two headlamps, which has proven to be easier for pickers than when they harvest cherries during daylight hours. Additionally, staff wear reflective strips and follow a strict harvest protocol that prevents pickers and tractors from being in the same row.
In order to ensure that its staff can sleep comfortably during the heat of the day, Jealous Fruits now has 80 percent of its dormitories air conditioned, with plans to retrofit the balance of the dorms with AC ahead of next season.
In terms of preserving quality, the release stated that ideally, cherries should be picked when their pulp temperature is between 15 and 18 degrees celsius, making them much more resistant to damage. Night picking has proven to produce fewer stemless cherries, create less impact damage, and remove the risk of stem browning almost entirely. Harvesting fruit with a cooler pulp temperature is also environmentally friendly, reducing Jealous Fruits’ energy consumption in the plant with less hydro demand.
Anyone up for a night stroll in the orchards? I’ll grab my headlamp.