Unlocking the potential of traditional orchards

For the cider producer Manfred Böhm the greatest lever for quality in cider lies in the correct harvesting of the fruit. Failures made here can no longer be made up for in the cellar. For the regularly harvesting workflow he relies on an innovative battery driven harvester from Austria.

When tons of fruits fall to the ground in autumn in the traditional orchards in Europe, about 2/3 of the fruit rots unused on the orchards. Manual harvesting is unattractive and hardly pays off for farmers at the low fruit prices. Processors in turn, have difficulties in procuring raw mate- rials and feel the price pressure from the world market. Traditional agroforestry orchards offer everything that today’s conscious consumers value: Regionality, sustaina- bility, valuable ingredients, and an important contribution to regional value creation and domestic biodiversity. But hardly any consumer can distinguish whether the apple spritzer was produced with concentrate or from regional NFC-juice from traditional orchards.

Quality needs consistency

This is precisely where it is important to score points with quality and efficient work processes. Quality needs consistency from cultivation to harvesting to marketing. In this process, the startup from Austria “Organic Tools” stands out with adapted harvesting technology for fruits and nuts.

After four years on the market, more than 1200 harvesters are already in use. The compact battery-powered device offers gentle, efficient harvest up to 1t/h and a good price-performance ratio. Especially for the diverse structures of traditional orchards with different fruit ripening times and an average of 70 high trunk trees per farm, the 35kg device is more flexible compared to more ponderous pick-up machines. It is suitable not only for apples and pears, but also for stone fruit, exotic fruits and various nuts. Only leaves and grass clippings remain outside – thanks to a simple, but effective separation system.

“Only an apple that falls from the tree is really ripe”.

For the Organic Tools customer and cider producer Manfred Böhm from Mulfingen (GER), the biggest lever for quality in cider lies in the correct harvesting of the fruit. Failures made here cannot be made up for in the cellar. Böhm only harvests what falls from the tree when fully ripe, in regular harvesting rounds from September to November. This allows the varieties to develop their aromatic potential. Decisive for this work are good meadow management in August and an effective harvesting process that makes continuous harvesting (labor) economical.