Having started the Hass harvest mid December in balmy weather, we were lucky in being able to get all the avocados off the trees within three weeks. The climatic conditions were perfect -- sunshine and temperatures hovering around 18°C by midday -- which allowed for all-day picking and transportation of the filled crates to the loading installation by late afternoon.
During the Hass harvest we usually start the day at daybreak around 8.30am, having grabbed a quick coffee and a warm coat on the way out. The dew that collects during the night makes early morning picking quite a cold and soggy affair as the leaves on the outside of the trees are drenched in water. After about one hour, we go back up to the house for a large breakfast and a short rest. Then it's back to the plantation for the major part of the picking -- working straight through until 1.30pm. By this stage we're in T-shirts and wearing sunglasses. It's a pleasure to pick fruit when the weather is so pleasant and the sky is blue. On weekdays, we'll break for lunch and then harvest for another couple of hours in the afternoon. At weekends, we usually stop at lunchtime. The wonderful part about picking avocados is that everyone can take part no matter their fitness level as the trees have no spikes or thorns nor are they particularly high. This makes it an all-round family-friendly activity as you can chatter away whilst everyone is picking avocados or helping to load the crates.
We work as a team, going from tree to tree and picking each avocado by hand using small cutters. We place the fruits in a bucket and then empty these into crates which are loaded on a small Honda transporter. This small machine really helps with the heavy loads as maneuvering crates between the rows of trees is not easy.
Finally, at the end of every day the crates are stacked up on the back of our 4x4 ready to be taken to the nearby co-operative installation where they are weighed and labelled. This is vitally important for traceability purposes. From there, all the fruit that's been delivered by local farmers is transported to the main TROPS packing facility in Velez-Malaga where the avocados are washed, individually weighed and then carefully placed in boxes for their trip abroad.