Growers can now pick and choose

IT’S an ungainly, almost frightening machine but as it crawls between the vines at Cambewarra Estate this mechanical beast makes light work of the harvest.

Louise Cole and Gary Peat bought the mechanical harvester because at the time it was a good investment that would save money on labour and time.

“The prices of pickers were going up to the point where it was costing us over $10,000 to pick the fruit,” Mr Peat said.

“There’s also the convenience factor. If it looks like rain coming I can go out and harvest straight away. 

“We don’t have to organise all the pickers. It takes the pressure off. If the weather’s good we just go and pick.”

The mechanical harvester straddles the row of vines and uses a series of shaking metal bars and conveyor belts to loosen the fruit.

It can pick about one tonne every 15 minutes. That would take about 20 pickers an hour to pick.

Mr Peat has been impressed with the quality of this year’s fruit.

“This has certainly been an excellent growing season. Though we haven’t had quite enough moisture most of us have some form of irrigation to get by,” Mr Peat said. 

“Disease pressure has been low which has been great and the quality of the fruit is looking as good as it gets.”

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