How to pick fruits from tall trees

Ladder-less Fruit Harvesting Techniques | Village Harvest

This is a lightly updated version of a PDF document that's helped many home tree owners learn easier ways to pick their fruit since first published in in 2004.

May home tree owners tell us the reason they can’t harvest their fruit is because they don’t have a ladder or don’t want to get on a ladder.  The easiest and safest way to harvest a fruit tree is by hand, from the ground. What surprises many is that much of the fruit that is harvested by Village Harvest volunteers is not harvested using ladders.

Tools and Techniques

Here are some of our ladder-less fruit harvesting techniques that you can use at home. 

Hand Pruner / Clipper

Beyond a hand, a pair of garden pruners / clippers is the #1 tool for picking citrus. Tangerines, tangelos, and lemons often have tender skins that will tear if the fruit is pulled, and clipping off is usually best. Oranges and grapefruit will usually pull off easily and cleanly when ripe.

Telescoping Pole Fruit Picker

These fruit pickers come in many varieties.  There are the standard basket type pickers that come on wooden or fiberglass poles.  Fiberglass poles are lighter, don’t splinter and can commonly be found extending to 12 feet.  With a 12 foot extension fruit picker, it’s possible to harvest up to a 18’ tall tree. 

Specialty Fruit Pickers

There are a number of specialty fruit pickers made for soft fruit or fruit with substantial stems that need to be clipped.  These are usually sold just with the heads and need to be attached to a wood or fiberglass pole.  Poles can be purchased separately but it’s often more convenient to purchase an extension fruit picker and replace the head.

Extension Pruner

Sometimes, especially if the fruit tree branches are very brittle or willowy, it can be best to just clip the fruit.  The best pruners for the job will clip then hold the fruit so it doesn’t fall to the ground.  Extension pruners can extend to as much as 20 feet.

Shake and Catch

"Shake and catch" is a method developed by Village Harvest volunteers that’s especially good for plums.  You'll need a tarp or sheet, and a stick that can be a broom or a light garden tool, and preferably 3 to 4 people. It can be done "solo" although the results may not be as gentle if fruit drops onto the ground.

  1. Gather 3-4 friends and family around the tree. 
  2. Stretch a tarp or old sheet under the tree making sure that it doesn't touch the ground.
  3. Gently shake the branch above the tarp.
  4. Catch the fruit into the sheet or tarp; usually only the riper plums (or other fruit) will fall, without being bruised or damaged.

When the tarp is full or heavy enough, grab the corners to gather the plums together, then scoop the plums into boxes and carry them away.

Note that if the fruit hasn't been thinned, you will get a variety of ripeness that falls. The unripe fruit would be falling anyway due to having too much competition for space on the branch. Do this several times during the season and you'll have harvested nearly all the fruit. 

A great variation on this that we’ve seen some homeowners drape a net under the tree.  As the wind shakes the fruit down, it catches in the net.  Daily, gather the fruit for breakfast. 

"Shake and catch" can also be used for softer, more fragile stone fruit like apricots, peaches, or nectarines if you're planning on using the fruit immediately for jam. Those fruits will probably be damaged from the fall but sometimes it's the only way to get high fruit off a tree. It also catches them in a tarp for less mess in your yard.

This method can be used for apples but you should consider a hard hat.

Build your own Tree Shaker, designed by Village Harvest volunteers to mimic the tree shakers that were used before mechanical shakers were developed. 


Probably your best defense against a ladder.  And your only technique for cherries, apricots, figs, and kumquats that need to be harvested by hand.  

Keep trees to 15’ tall, remove crossing and dead branches to make access to fruit easy on yourself.  Citrus trees have high yields and are easy to harvest when pruned as bushes.  Deciduous fruit trees can be pruned to have low canopies or to branch downward in a willow-like fashion.  Additionally, there are special pruning/planting techniques that are designed for easy harvest.  Consult a good garden book for espalier or cordon techniques. 

Ladder-less Fruit Harvesting Technique Suitability Guide

X - Common method
S - Sometimes used

Fruit Type Hand Clipper Pole Picker Specialty Picker Shake & Catch Extension Pruner
Apple   X   S  
Apricot     X    
Avocado X X X    
Grapefruit X X      
Lemon X X      
Orange X X      
Peach/Nectarine     X    
Persimmon X X      
Plum   S X X  
Pomegranate X       X
Quince   X     X
Tangerine X S      

How to Pick From Tall Trees | Home Guides

By Danielle Smyth Updated August 04, 2021

Your experience in harvesting fruit probably come from choosing them at the grocery store. Picking fruit straight from the plant or tree it grows on is a bit of a rarity in modern life. As a result, the best way to pick cherries from a tree may be a mystery. If you're picking from a tall tree, cherries or any other fruit, you should plan ahead and proceed with caution.

Best Way to Pick Cherries From Trees

Although it may seem like picking cherries might be as simple as reaching up and grabbing them, a few important pieces of information can help ensure you harvest the best fruit. Doing so safely is also essential, regardless of the type of tree you'll be picking. When harvesting cherries, keep in mind the variety of cherry you’re after as well as when you’ll be using them and what you’re using them for.

One of the most important factors to consider to determine how and when to pick your cherries is what you plan to do with them after you pick them. For sweet cherry tree varieties that you plan to eat later, pick them with the stem still attached.

The writers at say that ripe cherries should come off the tree naturally while still holding on to their stems, so this shouldn’t be too difficult if you’re picking at the right time. If the tree you're picking from is very tall, you can use a ladder to access the fruit. However, have someone stand at the bottom to hold the ladder in place. Lay a tarp on the ground to collect any cherries that drop while you're working, and have your spotter hand up a bucket so you can collect while you're atop the ladder.

Storage of Cherries

Keeping the stems on the cherries helps them stay edible longer, as the stems provide some resistance to spoiling. If you plan to eat the cherries raw, keeping the stems on is a good idea. Whether you keep the stems or not, be sure to store the cherries you pick out of direct sunlight whenever possible.

Moreover, you should refrigerate all picked cherries as soon as possible after picking, regardless of your plans for them. Cherries will stay fresh in the refrigerator for as long as two to three weeks, especially if they're of the sweeter variety, like Bing cherries.

The only exception to this rule is if you’re picking from the types of cherry bushes that offer sweet fruit. In that case, you can eat them right off the stem as soon as you pick them off the tree.

When to Pick Cherries

All different types of cherries have a few things in common, such as the time of year they usually ripen. Cherry trees come in two main varieties: those that produce sweet cherries and those that produce sour ones. Both types start growing early in the spring when the last few cold snaps of winter are on their way out. Owing to their early start in the calendar, they usually can be picked as early as late spring or early summer. If you'll be picking during bad weather, proceed with caution. It's best to avoid ladders or tarps under a tree if it's raining or snowing. Never go outdoors during a lightning storm.

Your plans for your cherries can influence which types of cherries you pick. For example, sour cherry varieties are normally used for cooking and baking; whereas, sweeter varieties are typically enjoyed fresh. The writers from Taste of Home list several species of cherry and the attributes they’re best known for.

If you’re picking cherries to enjoy for a while, Tulare cherries might be a good option, as they usually stay fresh longer than others. Or, if you’re a baker, Montmorency cherries are the most popular.


  • Cherry Picking Tips and Facts
  • Taste of Home: Here's Every Type of Cherry and How to Use It

Writer Bio

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity.

Tall Tree Apricot Picker: Varieties of Devices

Harvesting is a pleasant but tedious task. Ripe fruits are usually found at the top of the tree, and getting them is difficult and sometimes dangerous, especially when you need to pick apricots. Fruit trees are tall, and ripening fruits are tender and juicy, so summer residents simply need improvised means to facilitate this process. Today, there are many devices for collecting apricots from tall trees, both industrial and self-made. 9Ol000

Types of fruit collectors

The basis of any fruit collector is a long telescopic handle. Usually, its length is from 1.5 to 3 meters. Even if the fruit picker itself is made independently, from improvised materials, it is worth buying a handle, because it is light, long, and allows you to reach the highest branches of the tree.

Tall tree harvesters consist of this handle, usually a lightweight aluminum alloy, and a fruit container. The container can be made in the form of a bowl or bag for harvesting. The main thing is that tender fruits do not wrinkle during the assembly process.


The tulip-shaped fruit collector passes freely between the branches, the fruits are easily separated from the stalks if you start to slightly twist the fruit collector in any direction. A small plastic bowl keeps the fruit from wrinkling.

The disadvantage is the tediousness of such collection, the need to collect each fruit separately, which is very inconvenient in the case of apricots.

LUXE Fruit Collector

Consisting of a durable washable bag and a ring with sharpened metal petals. A device of this design makes it easy to harvest even from a height, without damaging the fruits and branches of the tree, since the stalk is easy to cut off with the sharp edges of the petals.

Fruit collector with secateurs

Consisting of a funnel, fruit storage container and reinforced secateurs. The funnel is brought under the fruit, the stem is cut with a pruner, and the intact fruit is gently rolled into a net or bag for harvest. There are many home-made fruit pickers; long cuttings and plastic bottles came to the rescue of gardeners. With such a device, replacing containers, you can collect apricots, plums, apples and pears.

Harvesting from tall trees

How to harvest apricot trees - there are several possible ways. Usually, this is an activity for the whole family, small gardeners really like to climb trees and help the elders, and grandmothers are happy to sort and process ripe fruits.

  1. Apricots are harvested by standing on a ladder or climbing a tree branch. Of course, these methods are suitable for physically strong gardeners, since both the ladder and the branches of the tree are an unreliable support, and it is easy to get injured, even if you are a very careful person. A long ladder should be properly installed and securely fastened.
  2. Another way is to use fruit pickers, however, if there are too many fruits, then harvesting with them is too tiring. It is very difficult to hold a long stick with a fixed bag.
  3. If the apricots growing in the garden are not too soft, you can spread a cloth under the tree and gently shake the branches. Ripe apricots are easily detached from the branch and do not break. At the same time, harvesting takes very little time.
  4. Often a container for fruits is tied to a pole and, tapping a stick on a branch, they carefully harvest. Fruits simply pour from the branch into the substituted fruit collector.
  5. You can wait until the apricots themselves begin to crumble and collect already fallen fruits, but there is a danger that then they will simply overripe.
  6. The last way is to pick the fruits after rain or strong wind, but in this case there is a high probability that the fruits will be badly beaten.

Combining all possible ways to quickly harvest the fruit is the best way out. The main thing is to secure the ladder well, and check the strength of the rungs before climbing. If you are going to collect apricots while standing on a tree branch, choose the right shoes - they should be light, comfortable and not slippery, take care of a safety belt - it will save you from possible injuries.

Time of harvesting apricots

When to harvest apricots, each owner decides independently - the fruits vary greatly in terms of ripening, depending on the variety. Early apricots ripen in late June-early July. Of course, much depends on the region of growth and weather conditions. The more sun the apricot gets, the larger and sweeter the fruit will be.

Fruits of medium maturity are harvested in mid-July. They are large, fragrant, great for harvesting for the winter and fresh consumption. Late varieties are harvested from July 25, apricots of late varieties are fleshy, large.

Depending on the cultivar, the fruit may be pale or bright yellow, with a reddish flank and almost orange; it is almost impossible to determine maturity by color. Picking apricots begins when the stone is freely separated from the pulp. You need to harvest in dry weather, it is better to do this on a not too hot day.

The best picking time is from morning to 11 o'clock or after 15-16 o'clock when the afternoon heat subsides.

DIY apricot picker

Plastic bottles are excellent for fruit pickers, and they use both small, 1.5-2 liter bottles cut in half, and 5 liter water containers. The selected bottle is cut across in half, holes are drilled in the neck. The funnel obtained from the bottle is tightly planted on a pole and fixed with self-tapping screws. Of course, this design is not very strong, but it is easy to replace it by adapting a new bottle under the fruit collector. To make the fruits break off easily, you can cut small cloves around the perimeter of the container with scissors.

Sometimes a metal or plastic waste basket is attached to the pole. A ring of smaller diameter is attached to the upper ring, the edges of which are slightly sharpened. This design allows you to carefully cut the fruit from the stalks, ripe intact fruits fall into the basket.

Important: do not make a large fruit picker - harvesting in such a container is inconvenient, apricots can wrinkle and lose their presentation, and it is not easy to hold a heavy container over your head.

Whatever way the gardener has to pick apricots, the main thing is to prevent loss of the harvest. There are many ways to process apricots: the easiest way is to dry juicy fruits, because dried apricots are perfectly stored and contain a huge amount of vitamins and other useful substances. Apricot jam, jam and marmalade are other ways to preserve the harvest and the opportunity to feel the aroma of a hot summer again in the cold winter, enjoying compote or filling for pies, or perhaps just sipping tea with delicious apricot jam.

90,000 DIY apples for collecting apples with wood: 5 types of fruitfuls

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Traditionally, gardeners are impatiently await the occurrence . And what a shame it is if the most ripe, juicy and beautiful apples are located at the top of the tree. Without special tools, they can not be torn off in any way. Fruit pickers, made both industrially and with their own hands, come to the aid of gardeners. 9Ol000

Fruit picker - a device for picking apples from high branches of a tree, can be made both industrially and with your own hands. This device is quite simple to make from improvised materials: a plastic bottle, a polymer pipe, and even a tin can.

A self-made picker must meet certain criteria:

  • reach high;
  • securely hold plucked fruits;
  • be easy and convenient to use.

Plastic bottle picker

Plastic bottle picker is not durable. Its main advantage is ease and undemanding maintenance. Such a simple fruit picker is made with your own hands, following the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Cut a two-liter plastic bottle in half, separating the neck and bottom, and discard the bottom.
  2. The opposite side of the part containing the neck is figuratively cut out with teeth resembling petals in their shape.
  3. Two opposite holes are drilled in the neck.
  4. One end of a long wooden pole (garden tool handle) is adapted to the opening of the bottle.
  5. The cut off part of the bottle with teeth is put on the pole with its neck, after which it is securely fixed with a pair of self-tapping screws.

Homemade picker is not durable and therefore not suitable for large scale operation.

To harvest with such a device, it is brought to a branch with fruits, an apple is placed inside the bottle, after which the device is rotated clockwise until the teeth cut the apple. Thus, up to 3 apples can be removed from the branch at a time.

Plastic pipe picker

Another simple way to get a fruit picker is to construct it from a plastic pipe of a suitable diameter and at least 60 cm long. The manufacturing process takes place in the following sequence:

  1. The edge of the pipe is cut on one side with teeth about 3 cm long.
  2. The teeth are heated over the plate until the plastic softens, after which they are bent inward, forming the bottom of the future fixture.
  3. On the other side of the pipe, a groove is cut out, resembling a fishhook in outline.
  4. Departing from the groove in both directions by about 6 mm, cuts are made into which the blade of a clerical knife is threaded.
  5. A 15 cm square is cut from the same pipe.
  6. Warm up the center of the square over the fire and bend around a metal rod with it.
  7. With the help of a cooled part, a piece of pipe with teeth is fixed.
  8. On the other side, a wooden handle of the required length is inserted.

To remove an apple from a tree, the device is brought to the fruit so that it is inside the pipe, and the tail is in the groove. Bringing the blade to it and pulling slightly towards you, carefully cut off the apple, which falls into the basket of the fruit picker.

Can Picker

If an apple stalk doesn't lend itself to a plastic bottle picker, you can make a similar tool out of a large diameter can. Step-by-step manufacturing instructions:

  1. On one side of the jar, cut a shallow line from the top with a knife.
  2. The sides of the slot are pushed apart with pliers so that it acquires a wedge-shaped shape, pointed downwards.
  3. Make two holes opposite the incision.
  4. Through the holes made, fix the fruit collector on the pole with a strong wire.

Only large-diameter tin cans that can easily fit an apple inside are suitable for this device.

Picking stick for picking apples from tall trees

In order to keep the apple harvest for a long time, it is very important to pick it correctly. That is why gardeners try to remove apples from branches as carefully as possible so as not to damage them and prevent them from falling to the ground. In this they are helped by long sticks equipped with soft fruit collectors. It is quite easy to build such a fruit picker, following the step-by-step instructions:

  1. A 2 liter plastic bottle is used to make the grabber.
  2. The bottom of the bottle is cut off, and the bottom is cut into blades, forming a kind of crown.
  3. Using a hole punch or a heated sharp awl, make two holes in each sector.
  4. A strong fishing line about 3 m long is threaded into the holes formed in a circle, leading both ends through the neck.
  5. Start attaching the main holder. As it is used a long stick (a handle from a plastic mop, a pipe).
  6. The line coming out of the neck of the bottle is threaded through the holes made at the end of the holder and taken out from the back.
  7. The ends of the fishing line are tightly tied.

When picking apples, the line is pulled towards itself, allowing the blades to make grasping movements.

Homemade apple picker

Experienced gardeners advise picking up fallen apples immediately to prolong their shelf life. Since this is not an easy task, a special device was invented that allows you to pick fruit from the ground without bending down. The roll, as it was called, is an oval-shaped wire structure, which is rolled along the surface of the earth with a long handle, picking up apples that fall into the gaps between the bars, and just as easily removed through a special hole.

What to do if the garden is covered with fallen fruits, and the purchase of a roll is not planned? In this case, an ordinary home-made fruit picker on a long stick, only slightly improved, will come to the rescue. Here is a step-by-step manufacturing instruction:

  1. Cut off the bottom of a 1.5 liter plastic bottle.
  2. Small teeth up to 10 cm deep are cut along the walls of the resulting bowl.
  3. On the other hand, the throat is also cut off.
  4. A holder is attached to the side of the resulting pipe at a convenient angle.
  5. On the opposite side of the teeth, put on the pouch (sock will do) and secure. The device for collecting apples from the ground is ready.

The fruit picker is a simple but handy device for picking fruit from high branches of a tree.

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