Monday, September 19, 2011

Machine harvest video

We're trying to catch our breath today, not that it's working. I managed to get a crude video of the machine working, and put it up on YouTube; catch it there if Blogger is not working satisfactorily.

This was a good bush; you see it go into the machine, though it's much wider than the machine (the hazel bushes are extremely flexible) - then there's a wait for travel, then the nuts start to come down the chute. Also bugs; you can see a few Japanese beetles- consequently, we did NOT bring the harvested nuts back to Minnesota; we'll have to process them in Illinois. We could use some help there...

At the end you see the conveyer; this bush did not clog the machine, but the conveyer was full. I never managed to get a movie of one of the really huge-crop bushes- they actually overflowed the conveyer and everything else; we had to hit the panic button and stop the machine completely, in order to catch up.

This only shows one side of the machine; there are two; which means there were just as many nuts coming out the other side also.

More soon.


  1. wow- that has to be about 20? 50? times faster than I or anybody else can pick by hand.

    How many of the bushes are that good?

  2. rand- "how many of the bushes are that good?"

    Not that many- yet. Remember; all these bushes came from seed- from bushes- that have been picked by hand, and selected for holding their crop so they COULD be picked by hand; for 3-4 cycles. Wild hazels drop their nuts. Selection for the seed staying on the plant is #1 task for any plant domestication. We did that.

    Now we have to find the bushes that hold onto their crop- and let it go when we ask it to- with the harvester. Guess what seeds we'll be planting next year? yep; the ones from the bushes that put a lot of nuts into the picker.

  3. Seems to me I can see plain naked nuts going by in the chute- out of the husk. Is the machine knocking some nuts free? Is that going to be a possible harvest pathway, just picking the nuts and leaving the husks?

  4. Eddie- yep, those are "free" nuts- "naked" is true, but makes people giggle.

    There were several bushes where most of the nuts picked were "free"- no husks. Mostly in those cases the husks stayed on the bush, and weren't picked at all. I think the chances that we could select such bushes for the other characteristics needed are very high; and I'll guess that people will indeed start thinking and selecting that way- our working gene pool does include those possibilities.

    But- if the nuts are in very reduced husks (involucres) - they are also quite definitely more exposed to theft by birds and mice, and if the husk is open all year, to very early theft by animals not usually a problem for ours. I understand that in Oregon grackles will sometime eat very immature hazels- because they can.

    It will take years of testing, at many different scales and different locations, to figure out where the economics lie. Plus- our husks are absolutely full of very interesting defensive chemicals; from terpenes to (probably) taxol. They can also be a crop worth thinking about.

    There's no shortage of questions- or different answers. It's going to be interesting to see where everyone takes the crop. I'm sure there will also be plenty of folks who will want to stay with hand harvest, for many reasons- that will still be a continued direction.