First Full Harvest at Bee & Thistle Orchard - July 2018

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In July, 2018, the team completed its first full harvest. The custom harvester that was purchased from Poland worked extremely well. Local help was hired to assist on the harvester with sorting and at the cleaning station.

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The harvester is hauled by our tractor. The rows were designed to accommodate the width of the equipment. Half of the bush is “picked” by the harvester at a time. The bush is shaken and the berries fall onto a conveyer belt into the harvester chute, past a blower which pushes out debris, and onto the sorting conveyor.

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The berries fall from the chute onto a sorting conveyor belt into trays. Manual sorting takes place at that time to ensure all vegetation and other debris, material other than Haskap, is removed from the trays. The trays are stacked and moved to the transport trailer. The berries are then transported to the final sorting facility, where they are washed, sorted a final time, cooled with cold water, and packed into boxes and buckets.

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A mobile chiller was rented to start freezing the berries immediately. Temperatures in Saskatchewan in July reach into the 30 deg C range, so it’s important to get them frozen as quickly as possible.

Testimonial of Just Chill from the Bee & Thistle Winery: Once again, rented the 5 x 8 to pre-chill the harvested berries. Everything was professionally arranged and the service was perfect. Berries were chilled to just about 0C and taken to a walk-in freezer the day following harvest. 1250 lbs.
— https://justchilltrailerre.wixsite.com/website?fbclid=IwAR2zrjpDsbsHjJAwBoMSKTyCGJrKEr8qh6XOF1IkIsGxDE8lC6jZQ8ZVG6I
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The first run through resulted in 5,200 pounds of berries harvested in four days. These will be used solely for wine. The second run through was 1,250 pounds harvested in one day. This batch was sold or traded.

The produce was transported via the mobile chiller to a winter freezer at a local facility near Big River, Saskatchewan. In March, 2019, our Winemaker, Margie, will initiate the fermentation process. It is expected that the 5,200 lbs of berries will produce over 6,200 bottles of Haskap fruit wine. By then, the 2019’s harvest will be ready….and the cycle will begin again.