The main problem I have with fruit trees is that they very seldom stop growing at 8′ tall. Most of the best looking harvest is far above that, so I need a way to extend my reach. Enter the fruit picker.
I have a very old one my father passed on to me, and it works. That’s about all I can say about it. The wire cage is broken, bent, and misshapen, and smaller fruit falls through it as fast as I can pick it. It’s on a rough wooden handle that I have covered with tape to avoid splinters, but which still gets me now and then. I don’t want my children using it, so we started looking for a replacement. I finally decided we would just make our own.
There were a number of reasons for this:
I have 5 children and they ALL want to use the picker when it’s time to harvest apples. It would be silly to buy 5 new ones.
Cost. Even a decent one costs $20 or so, and that’s money I will gladly keep in my pocket.
We’re homeschoolers and DIY types, so building our own tools counts as shop class (grin). And it’s fun.
We can customize them. If the handle is too short, we can just put on a longer one. If the basket is too small, we can make it larger.
I started checking around, and found many different ways to make them. Here are the best ones I found.
If you like the wire cage version, you can just buy the head on Amazon for about $10 and stick it on the handle of your choice.
A similar version is the pop bottle picker. It’s very easy to make and assemble.
You can make a small fruit picker from a piece of PVC pipe, cut and shaped. This takes some skill and the proper tools.
Some people like the hoop and bag style, with a bag for collecting as much fruit as possible before you have to bring it down.
We decided to make the pop bottle picker, because it was free and simple. My son is holding our first two pickers in this picture.
We used 24 ounce bottles and mine had an old broom handle and duct tape holding it all together. My son’s used a piece of bamboo for the handle, and his was just as successful. We’ve used them to pick apples, crab apples, plums, pears, and hawthorns with no signs of it working loose. Today there were some pears that were still out of reach, so we lashed the two sticks together and kept on going. It worked great! It’s not quite big enough for larger apples, but all we need for those is a 1.5 liter bottle. Cut it and tape it on, and we’re good to go.
If the fruit seems to be consistently out of reach, you may want a telescoping handle. I have one that came with a broom, and it extends out to about 10′ long. With my height, that’s about 18′ of wild fruit I can reach.
Good luck with making your own, and whichever style you decide to use, happy picking!
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