How Are Tomatoes Harvested? A timing study was conducted in southern Florida during the winter of 2015 to determine the best time of day to harvest the fruit. Because tomato plants are usually planted at various times throughout the season, the timing of harvest differs slightly for each field. Researchers gathered data from four different fields and observed pickers during various harvest times. The researchers recorded the amount of time it took random pickers to fill a bucket with tomatoes and then return to the row.
Tomatoes that are picked for the fresh market are harvested by hand. In large fields, mechanical harvest aids may be used to transport workers and fruit down the rows and into bulk bins. Picking the fruit at the earliest stage, or “breaker,” is the best time to avoid damage. Tomatoes that are harvested with the calyx intact are more likely to be ripe and have a higher quality after picking.
In a commercial garden, tomatoes are harvested using labor contractors or hired workers. A harvest crew consists of 24 workers and two dumpers. The crew covers six rows on either side of the truck. Each worker picks tomatoes on one side of the row. The pickers pass each filled bucket to the dumpers, who then empty the buckets into bins. Each worker receives a plastic coin for each full bucket.
To harvest tomatoes for the fresh market, the workers must stake the plants. The use of stakes allows the foliage to avoid contact with the ground and provides extra space for aeration. Staking also helps in harvesting. Farmers stack tomatoes when they reach a height of about 40 cm. They tie a piece of wire between the stakes and place it every 30 cm. Then, the pickers stack the ripe fruit into rows, one row after another.
Tomatoes are harvested by hand. A machine works alongside a group of workers and pulls a whole plant into a body. Then, they shake the plant until the fruit is freed from the vine. The machine then pushes the fruit onto conveyor belts. The machine blends human and mechanical processes to ensure quality of the final fruit. It also sorts out tomatoes that are too small or too yellow.
Tomato harvesting for the fresh market is done by hand. It is done with the help of mechanical harvest aids. The process of tomato harvesting requires the use of cover crops. They improve the quality of the soil, prevent soil erosion, conserve moisture, and reduce the risk of weeds. In the first and second harvests, pickers were paid by the bucket. They averaged thirty-three buckets per hour during the first and second harvests. The third and fourth harvests were more expensive than the previous two years and tomatoes became smaller.
The harvesting process is important for both the fresh market and for the market. Careful timing and management can maximize the amount of yield per acre. To maximize the price per pound, the fruit must be picked between the firm ripe stage. This process is referred to as the “breaker” stage. The earliest stage of maturity is the “breaker” stage. The fruit must be red inside to avoid deterioration.
When it is time to harvest, tomato growers stake their plants. Indeterminate tomato plants, as well as vines, need staking. Staking prevents the foliage from touching the ground and gives extra room for aeration. During the harvesting phase, farmers tie stakes next to each plant and place a wire every thirty cm in order to make the stacking process easier.
During the first and second harvests, pickers were paid a piece rate for each bucket of fruit they delivered to a truck. This piece rate was 60 cents for a bucket of tomatoes during the first two harvests. After this, the piece rate rose to 75 cents per bucket during the third and fourth harvests. The efficiency of the harvesting process decreased, due to smaller tomatoes and a decrease in harvesting rates.