Harvesting olive trees isn’t extremely complicated, and even the non-olive growers know the 7 essential tools you should use to pick olives. However, the technology and industry are going forward, so should we. There are some changes in olive harvesting equipment, and I decided to summarize all the new and old tools for olive harvesting in this one article so that you have everything in one place.
To harvest olive trees, you should use the following tools: harvesting net, electric tree harvester, combs, containers or bags, ladders, telescopic wands, and working gloves.
As you can see, the tools list isn’t long, and it’s easy to know the exact tools you should have. In my opinion, if you only ever watched someone pick olives, you’ll probably know the tools needed.
I know a lot of olive growers, especially the older ones who are still resisting new tools and technologies used for olive picking. My goal is to change that, and that’s the purpose of this article.
1. Harvesting Net
Harvesting nets, or as some people call them, olive net cachers, are among the essential tools you should have if you want to harvest olive trees quickly.
Harvesting nets serve as a layer between the ground and the olives. So, when you harvest olive trees, olives will fall into a harvesting net instead of falling to the dirty ground. That way, it’s extremely easy to collect them later on.
I know some people that don’t want to use harvesting nets, and honestly, I can’t understand them. Instead of doing a job quicker and safer, they’re making everything less effective and profitable.
Without a harvesting net, you’d have to pick olives from the ground by your hand, making the whole job physically more challenging and more time-consuming.
The best part about harvesting nets is that they’re not expensive and that you don’t need plenty of them. Sometimes, only one or two large harvesting nets will be enough if you don’t have a large team of people harvesting olive trees.
2. Electric Tree Harvester
When we’re talking about picking olives, electric tree shakers, a.k.a. olive harvester machines, are one of the best inventions ever. They significantly improve the harvesting speed, even for total beginners, and that’s why I like them so much.
There are also gasoline-powered tree shakers, as in the image above. Still, I suggest buying a battery-powered one since it’s much more ecological, lighter, and easier to work in general.
Using a handheld electric olive harvester machine is very simple and similar to using typical plastic combs used for olive harvesting. The only difference is that these tree shakers will shake the branches and thus harvest 99% of the olives from the tree.
When compared to typical plastic combs, electric tree shakers will help you harvest an olive tree even up to 3 times faster, in my opinion. To look at it pictorially, one man can do business like three men.
Most newer tree shakers have a battery included, while some older ones probably don’t, so they need an external electricity source. That’s easily fixable by bringing a car battery to the olive farm, which can provide an electric tree shaker enough electricity for an entire workday.
3. Harvesting Rake/Combs
Olive growers still widely use plastic harvesting rakes, even though they now have electric tree harvesters (check above). Harvesting combs are fantastic for picking olives, but they require more physical exertion.
Working with them is pretty slow compared to electric shakers, but it’s still much faster than harvesting olives with bare hands.
Having harvesting combs near you is always preferable, even if you use electric tree shakers. Sometimes, electric tree shakers will leave some olives hanging on the branches, and you can easily pick them by using harvesting combs.
Harvesting combs are nothing special. They’re just plastic combs sized perfectly for harvesting olive trees. If you don’t have them at home, you can easily re-size your old combs for picking leaves, and you’re all set.
4. Containers or Bags
After successful olive harvesting, all the olives should be inside harvesting nets. Of course, you can’t take harvesting nets to an olive oil factory. You should store them in something before.
I advise using either plastic containers or breathable plastic/cloth bags. That way, olives will have air to breathe, they won’t get squeezed before time, and they’ll keep all the juices inside them until they get pressed at the factory.
Depending on the number of olive trees you have, you should know how many containers or bags you should have. If you’re a more experienced olive grower, you’ll probably know how much fruit can you expect so that you can buy enough containers.
In general, plastic containers will have a volume anywhere between 30-40 liters, and they’ll be able to carry between 20-30 kilograms of olives safely.
Depending on how you maintain and grow olives, you will need or don’t need ladders when harvesting olive trees. In most cases, olive growers tend to grow their olives smaller to reach everything without using ladders.
In my opinion, the best-case scenario is if you can reach everything with your hands, using telescopic wands (which I’ll mention later).
If you grow your olive trees too tall, it’s hard to reach them, even when using giant ladders. That’s because the treetop is also larger and wider on tall olive trees, and you simply won’t be able to reach all the olives when you start harvesting them.
However, having a pair of ladders is always a great option. Sometimes, you won’t need ladders to pick olives, but you’ll probably need the ladders for something else on your olive farm. That’s why I recommend you have them in your shed.
So, to conclude, if you have tall and giant olive trees, you definitely need ladders. On the other hand, if you keep your olive trees smaller, you probably won’t need ladders for harvesting, but it’s good to have them.
6. Telescopic Wand
Telescopic wands are expandable wands that can be mounted on various tools to make them longer. They can usually be adjusted on multiple heights, making them a perfect addon for anyone. In my opinion, telescopic wands are a must tool to have when harvesting olive trees.
Mostly, you only need a telescopic wand for harvesting rakes because 99% of electric tree harvesters have a telescopic wand built-in. With the help of the telescopic (expandable) rod, you should be able to reach the top of the olive tree unless it’s exceptionally high.
When buying a telescopic wand, make sure to pick some lighter ones since there are some pretty heavy ones on the market. Also, don’t buy the cheapest option out there since they could break easily, with just a little bit of pressure.
7. Working Gloves
No doubt, you can work without wearing working gloves, but I highly suggest you don’t do that. Working gloves serve as a safety layer between your hands and everything you touch with them. Olive trees aren’t sharp and won’t do you any damage, but still, it’s good to wear gloves while you’re picking olives.
Together with providing extra safety, working gloves will also make working when harvesting olive trees physically more accessible. Sometimes it’s hard to explain it, but I’m telling you from my experience.
Of course, when you’re doing some tentative jobs, you’ll take the gloves off, but otherwise, it’s good to have them on your hands. Also, depending on your area, there could be some poisonous animals near the olive trees.
In my case (I live in Croatia, EU), there’s a poisonous snake called viper (we call it poskok), and they can climb trees. Here’s a news article about one case where the viper bit an olive picker (it’s in Croatian, so make sure to click the translate button at the top right corner of your browser). Wearing gloves will protect at least your hands from such animals. Of course, these cases are sporadic, but “better safe than sorry.”
Having the proper equipment for harvesting olive trees is essential to get the best and quickest results. With the right equipment, you won’t need to hire so many olive pickers, which will save you money in the end. Even if you do everything by yourself, you’ll pick olives quicker than usual, which is again profitable.
I hope that I have given you a pleasant and thorough answer to the question “what tools do I need to harvest olive trees” and that you’re happy with the article. Also, make sure to check my guide and learn how to pick olives fast.
Most of the equipment is cheap and affordable, except the electric tree shakers, but you don’t buy them every year, they can last for ten years or more, so it’s always a worthy investment.