Harvesting needs much time and much care, because only those fruit clusters which are cut at the right moment yield a lot of good-quality oil.
You must go through the plantation many times to pick the ripe clusters.
A cluster is ripe for harvesting when the fruits begin
to turn red, and when 5 or 6 fruits drop to the ground.
If you wait too long before harvesting the clusters, harvesting takes much more time, because you must pick up all the fruits that have dropped to the ground.
The fruits will also yield less oil, and the oil will be of less good quality.
If you do not wait long enough before harvesting the
clusters, the fruit will not be ripe enough.
It will be more difficult to separate the fruits from the clusters and the clusters will yield less oil.
The clusters can be cut off with different tools.
For oil palms 4 to 7 years old
Cut the clusters with a chisel.
Slip the chisel between the stem and the leaf; in this way you can cut off the cluster without cutting the leaf below it.
For oil palms 7 to 12 years old
Cut the clusters with a machete.
If the clusters are too high up, climb up the tree by putting your feet on the base of the leaves.
For oil palms older than 12 years
Cut the clusters with a long-armed sickle.
If the clusters are too high up to be cut with the longarmed sickle, use bamboo ladders, or else climb up the tree with a belt; you can also wear spiked shoes.
Any clusters that have dropped to the ground should
be collected in a basket.
Fruits that have come loose must also be picked up.