Harvesting palm bunches is the most important process to increase palm oil products per rai (Thai unit of area). Farmers have to harvest the palm bunches that are fresh and perfectly ripe, and send them to a factory. To harvest the best quality and amount of palms, the farmers have to understand the harvesting standard as follows;
- Harvest the palm bunches that are fresh and perfectly ripe. The perfect timing is when the peel of palm fruits turns to a bright orange color. There are also not less than 10 fruits/ bunch fall down from the trees.
- When the palm trees produce numerous fruits, the harvesting time should be around 7-10 days.
- When the palm trees produce small amount of fruits, the harvesting time should be around 14-21 days/ 1 time.
- Falling fruits, whether on the ground or in the tree, should also be collected.
- The bunch stem should be cut to the shortest length or close to the bunch.
- Try not to bruise the fruits.
- For the oil palm trees that are 3-5 years old, it is suggested to use a steel spade that has 3.5 inches in width and 2.50-3.00 meters in length to cut the bunches from the trees.
- For the oil palm trees that are 8-9 years old, it is suggested to use a steel spade that has 4.5 inches in width and 2.00-3.00 meters in length to cut the bunches from the trees.
- It is difficult to use a steel spade to cut the bunches from the trees that are taller than 4 meters, therefore, it is suggested to use a scythe. A material that can be used to make a scythe is a bamboo stake or light aluminum. A bamboo stake works better with the trees, but the aluminum lasts longer than the bamboo stake.
- After all the bunches are cut down, use an axe to cut the bunch stem. The stem should not be longer than 2 inches.
Delivering the fruits is also important. There are some suggestions as follows;
- A trail in each palm patch should be convenient to walk in order to check the palm bunches and to deliver to other places.
- The palm bunches should be put at the tree base after cutting. The falling fruits should be collected in a basket, or sack, and then put at the tree base.
- After harvesting, the palm bunches should not be moved too many times. Moving can damage the fruits.
- Dirt, sand, soil, and husk should be removed from the fruits.
- After harvesting, the palm fruits should be delivered to a factory within 24 hours.