Fall has arrived, and apple season is in full swing on my northern Wisconsin farm. As part of my ongoing orchard expansion plans, Iâ€™ve introduced a new tool to my apple harvesting toolset.
Joining my trusty apple pickers and bushel baskets is a new fruit-picking bucket manufactured by Wells and Wade.
You might be wondering how one bucket can be better than the next. But â€śbucketâ€ť really isnâ€™t a thorough description of this particular item.
Weâ€™re not talking about a basic wooden basket. Weâ€™re talking about an advanced tool designed to make harvesting fruit easier, faster and more comfortable.
The basic design is straightforwardâ€”itâ€™s a bucked shaped like the letter â€śD,â€ť thoroughly padded on the inside to reduce fruit bruising. But with the release of two ropes, the bottom of the bucket opens downward.
Then a canvas chute unfolds to facilitate the easy (and gentle) dumping of fruit into traditional baskets.
The easy dumping feature is convenient, since this fruit-picking bucket is designed to be worn, not carried. The bucket comes with a criss-crossing pair of shoulder straps, so the bucket can be worn almost like a backpack at waist level.
Except the bucket doesnâ€™t have to ride behind you. It can be worn quite comfortably in front, placing it within easy reach while freeing up your hands to maneuver apple pickers and harvest fruit.
At first, I assumed the bucket would be tiring to wear for extended periods of time. In actuality, however, this hasnâ€™t been the case. Iâ€™ve found it very comfortable and convenient to carry. Though I suppose it might get a bit tiring if I filled it to the brim. (It holds about two-thirds of a bushel).
Due to a combination of late frost and a super-productive 2019 season, 2020 has been a slow year for fruit production on my farm. So my harvests on any given day havenâ€™t been sufficient to fill my new bucket.
A full-capacity test will have to wait for another year.
But the carry-along nature of the bucket has made it simple for me to quickly walk from tree to tree in my orchard, harvesting a handful of apples at each location. It certainly beats lugging bushel baskets from one tree to the next!
Iâ€™m pretty adept at carrying a basket of apples and multiple apple pickers all at once, but the way the wearable bucket frees up my hands is arguably its greatest benefit.
All told, Iâ€™ve been happy with the initial test runs of my fruit-picking bucket. Iâ€™m anticipating a banner year of fruit production in 2021 as my young trees mature into a more consistent bearing age.
Iâ€™m already looking forward to giving my bucket a stiff workout one year from now.