Get Prepared for Harvest Season

With fall well on its way, it’s time for farmers in California and beyond to start getting prepared for the harvest season. For some farms, that just means hiring temporary agricultural workers. For those with larger operations, it also means getting harvesting equipment back into operable condition after months of disuse.

Maintaining Nut Harvesters

Experienced farmers typically keep an eye out for problems with their machines during each harvest and make mental notes of what parts need to be replaced or repaired when the machine is no longer in use. Those who take this approach don’t always have the time or working capital to fix their machines immediately following the harvest, though. Now is as good a time as any to address known issues and give the machines a once-over to make sure no additional damage has occurred during the off-season.

When evaluating the machine, check the quality of all belts and rollers. Belts that may need to be replaced include:

  • pick up belts
  • metal chain belts
  • elevator belts
  • cleated twin rod belts

Other parts that could need replacing include not just the machine’s rollers, but also flange idlers and myriad rubber or plastic parts. Source these parts from a reputable industrial rubber supplier to get the best deals and ensure the highest quality repairs.

Maintaining Harvest Processors

Harvest processors are just as important as harvester equipment when the harvest season rolls around. They allow large-scale farms to process their crops for storage or immediate use, making it easier to ensure that no product goes to waste. Modern day processors have multiple moving parts that need to be maintained and occasionally replaced and each of them should be checked both before and after the harvest.

Farmers in California and Nevada can source shear rollers, shear roller belts, conveyor and elevator belts, and all the steel, rubber, and plastic parts they need to perform their own maintenance on their machines from the same company. This makes it easier to keep costs low while performing the basic maintenance required to avoid unexpected downtime, which could lead to significant crop losses if all the harvest cannot be processed before it begins to rot.

Maintaining Tree Shakers

Tree shakers save a ton of time for agricultural workers harvesting tree nuts. This allows farm owners to save money on labor costs, as well, but only if their machinery is in top condition come harvest season. For tree shakers, consider replacing pillow pads, oval shaker pads, shaker slings, drip pads, CIR shaker lubricants, cylinders, and tree seals. It’s worth getting the equipment back into top condition now before the harvest begins in earnest to avoid unnecessary downtime for maintenance and repairs when time is of the essence.

Maintaining Catching Frames

Catching frames are designed to be used in conjunction with tree shakers to make quick work of harvesting tree nuts. As of yet, no effective solution has been created for mechanically harvesting and catching tree fruits without damaging the crops, but nut trees are a different story.

Nut farmers who already have the systems in place to mechanically harvest their crops can’t afford to let their catching frames fall into a state of disrepair. They must check their machinery each year and replace cleated chain belts, urethane parts, covers, cylinders, flaps, and tree seals as needed to ensure that no unnecessary crop losses occur.

Maintaining Sweepers

Like most agricultural equipment, sweepers are composed of many moving and stationary parts. If just one of them malfunctions, it could put a temporary stop to the harvest at a time when the crop needs to be taken down quickly to avoid spoilage. Check the entire sweeper for signs of wear and address known problems in advance. When inspecting the sweeper, make a point of evaluating the condition of these parts:

  • wire rakes
  • tine bearings
  • rubber mounts
  • harvest fingers
  • fan blades
  • end caps
  • liners

If any of the parts look damaged or worn, it’s worth it to replace them now. An unexpected sweeper failure in the middle of the harvest could take a serious chunk out of the farm’s bottom line.

Maintaining Grape Harvesters

Mechanical grape harvesters are incredibly efficient, harvesting as much in an hour as ten hand-pickers could glean in a day. They’re designed not just to remove the grapes from the vine by applying light vibration, but also to transport them to storage bins so they can be processed more easily. One result of this design is that they feature more conveyor belts than most agricultural equipment.

If one of the conveyor flight belts or elevator belts malfunctions, it can throw off the timing for the entire harvest and there is simply no way a farm equipped to perform mechanical grape harvesting could come up with the resources and manpower to switch to harvesting by hand at the drop of a hat. Farm owners and equipment managers should carefully inspect their grape harvesters, including all belts and all rubber and plastic parts, to look for signs of wear before the season begins. They can usually purchase the industrial rubber supplies and conveyor belt supplies required to replace aging parts on-site.

Addressing Mechanical Problems

While most of the basic maintenance of agricultural equipment can be performed on-site by equipment managers, mechanical problems are best left to specialized mechanics. That being said, entrusting the rest of the yearly equipment maintenance checklist to an on-site manager can save a lot of money and give farmers more capital to work with when it comes to hiring specialists for mechanical repairs.

Equipment managers can get all the parts they need to maintain everything from mechanical grape harvesters to conveyor systems from the same reliable company. California Industrial Rubber Co. manufactures a wide variety of rubber, plastic, and metal parts specifically for agricultural clients, so they have everything farm owners and equipment managers need to keep the entire harvest on track. Buy parts and start making repairs now because while it may feel like the heart of summer, the harvest season is almost here and serious farmers can’t afford to procrastinate.

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