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Fruit Picking Tool

SUCHITOTO, El Salvador- “What do the people here use to get Mangoes out of trees?” I asked in El Salvador.

There were two prevailing answers:

1. You throw rocks up at the tree branches and, if you are a good shot, dodge any fruit or stones that come streaming down towards your head.

2. Use a long stick. Hit fruit with it until they fall.

From my observations, the big stick method is the most effective.

The fruit picking sticks here in El Salvador are sometimes just that — sticks — and sometimes they are refined, well sought after tools. The construction of these implements are simple: you get the longest stick you can find and attach a scoop to the end of it. The scoops are often made from small buckets or the bottom halves of plastic containers.

The above video is of a man in Suchitoto standing on top of a roof while picking mangoes with a fruit picking tool. It is my impression that the ideal is to get the mangoes into the scoop, but I could not help but to observe the fact that most of the fruit fell onto the roof.

These kids began harvesting almonds by throwing a ball up into the tree and hoping that almonds would be jarred loose and fall down to the earth. I watched them for a few moments to gauge their success rate — it was not bad, they kept up a harvesting pace that allowed them to continuously eat almonds.

Then another kid came by with a fruit picking tool and the harvest really began. The kid’s stick had an old plastic paint bucket attached to its business end, and as he stuck up into the tree and wiggled it around, exponentially more almonds fell to the ground or ended up in the bucket. Again, it is my impression that the ideal is to get the almonds to break off the branch into the bucket, so that you can lower them gently down to the ground. But, then again, any fruit fresh off the tree is eaten — it is not my impression that anybody cared too much if their fruit fell to the ground.

I suddenly got the urge to be the man with the big stick. I wanted to try to harvest almonds, too. It did not look like too difficult of a task — all I had to do was knock some fruit into a bucket attached to the end of a long stick. I took it as a carnival game as I thrust the old paint bucket up into the branches.

The kids looked on curiously.

I wiggled the stick around in the branches just to get a feel for the tool. I then sought to find some of the almonds, which seemed to be camouflaged had hidden behind the leaves. The boy then pointed out a good bunch of almonds at the end of an branch on the underside of the tree’s canopy. This was going to be easy picking.

My wife cheered, Petra gurgled.

I tried to lure the almonds into the bucket. I poked at them, fondled them with the end of the stick, got pissed and knocked a few off with the blunt edge of the bucket, I rattled the stick around, shoved it up and down into the branches, hit the group of almonds to the left, hit them to the right, and then, when I finally lowered the bucket to reveal my catch, it became apparent:

I had gotten none.

The kid took his stick back.

As a consolation prize, perhaps, another little boy ran up to me and stuck out a hand which held previously harvested almond. I ate it.

El Salvador Travel Guide | El Salvador Photos

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Filed under: Central America, Cheap Food, El Salvador, Technology

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3170 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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