15 February 2012
The coffee trees are HEAVY with cherries and they are red ripe for picking! The baráko (Liberica, above) ones look especially daunting since their beans are way larger than Robustas and Excelsas. Those too will soon be ready for harvesting, and even though the fruits are smaller, they are just as tedious to pick as they have to be manually done (or at least, we do) and the picking requires some arbitrary, split-second decisions.
Not all cherries ripen at the same time (right), you want to pick them only when they are fully mature, with a vivid red hue or just about the time they start drying up. It is a waste to comb through a branch to short-cut collecting them since some are younger than the others, like the yellow or green fruits. When I first did this some years ago, I picked one tree just like how everyone does it but after some minutes, I started wondering just how I should be able to do this faster: maybe do a swift, piano-like glissando
through the cherries and put a basket on the end to catch my loot. Quite predictably, my harvest had multi-colored produce (read: mixed-up ripe and wasted unripe cherries).
On the left photo is one of our staff, Diko who is picking a barako tree the proper way, just how everyone else does it: by hand, one by one. He even has on a takúyan, a hip-strung basket that is the most convenient and practical to contain the picked cherries.
From one tree alone, Diko picked practically three-fourths of a sack! And there are still some fruits left on that tree. Awesome...