Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Picking on frozen ground

    Rain, snow and endless days of damp cloudy weather has made the 2014 harvest season difficult. When I think back over this year's harvest season, we've had only 8 days of suitable conditions for mechanical harvest.  So when the ground froze hard last night, we greased up the harvester and continued our second harvest (photo above). This year, we are collecting about 150 lbs./acre during our second pass over the orchard floor.
    Picking on frozen ground is a little tricky. Besides pecans, the harvester picks up small clumps of frozen mud. As long as the temperatures stay below 32 degrees F, the mud stays solid and the nuts remain relatively clean. Let those mud balls thaw out and you quickly have a mess of muddy pecans.     To avoid potential mud problems, we run the nuts through our cleaning system as soon as we have collected a hopper full of second-picking nuts. Getting those frozen mud balls out of the sack as soon as possible is critical. Thankfully, the cleaning reel we inserted into our cleaning system removes most of the mud balls before the nuts get to the inspection table.