[NAFEX] Grape Harvester

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Mon Jun 7 22:09:37 EDT 2004

On Monday, June 7, 2004, at 12:53 PM, Thomas Olenio wrote:

> I have seen the machinery, but not in use.  As it was explained to me 
> by the vineyard owner. the harvester straddles the row of grapes, 
> knocks the berries from their clusters, and the berries are collected 
> and moved on conveyor belts.
> He made special note to indicate that the netting over the berries is 
> specially sized so that the grapes can be harvested (they fell through 
> the netting) with the harvester, but birds could not get to the crop. 
> Possibly it is dicarded after harvest.

I think it might have to be discarded. I have seen grape harvesters in 
action, and it occurs to me that some people reading this may be 
visualizing whole berries dropping gently onto the belts. While some of 
them may well come through the process more or less whole, a grape 
harvester uses force enough to mash many of the grapes; the belts empty 
into a ton tote lined with heavy plastic to make it waterproof, so as 
not to lose the juice. I made the idiot's error once of standing behind 
one (some distance behind, in what was in retrospect an insufficient 
attempt to avoid hazards) to try to see what the inside looked like when 
working; I couldn't see a thing as my glasses were immediately entirely 
covered with grape juice.

A skillful driver and a perfectly straight row keep damage to the vines 
to a minimum; but this is still not a gentle process. Maybe the netting 
would stand up to it; I don't know.

Finger Lakes NY; zone 5 mostly
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