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Tips and Tools for Harvesting Fruit

From big sheets and a few friends to fruit-picker baskets and pole pruners, these tips and tools will make the job easier.

Have fruit trees that are heavy with fruit? Here are a few tips to help you pluck the fruits of your labor.

Shake the limb and the fruit falls off. This first technique is the quickest and easiest. All you need are a few willing bodies and a large sheet under the fruit tree. Pick a fruit-filled branch and give it a good shake. This method is useful for tall trees and works best for those whose fruit can fall off easily, such as apples. Most important, the mass quantity of fruit is collected gently and safely. Of course, when shaking the tree, everything comes down, including the leaves and so forth, so you'll have to sort out the good fruit from the bad fruit, leaves and other debris.

Use a fruit-picker basket. For hard-to-reach fruits that can be pulled off easily, use a fruit-picker basket that has an extension handle. You can wrap the hooks around the fruit's stem and give it a tug. The fruit falls right into the basket.

Prune off fruit. Use handheld pruners to remove fruits that are hard to remove by pulling. For those hard-to-reach tender fruits, employ telescoping pole pruners. As an added bonus, pole pruners hold as they cut, so this is perfect for soft and fragile fruit like ripe peaches.

Twist and pull. Some fruits like pomegranates don't come off the tree as easily as apples. If you don't have pruners handy, grab each individual fruit and twist it until it's free of the tree.

When harvesting is complete, inspect the fruit, picking out the bad ones to be composted. If you have extra fruit and want to donate them, call your local food bank or do some research online for drop-off locations and times for any local harvest services.

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