Graze picking by planning

Harvesting the beds several times a day – or graze picking – automatically leads to higher production. A mushroom can double in weight in 24 hours – that is 4% growth per hour. However, it needs to have space to grow. The amount of space around the mushrooms depends on the next moment of harvesting.

Calculation example
Imagine a situation where picking is finished at 1 pm and the mushrooms left on the beds have to wait until 6 am the following day. This means they can continue growing for a further 17 hours. That is 68% (17 hours x 4%). If you stop harvesting at 4 pm they only have to wait for a further 14 hours (56% increase). Conclusion: if you stop work at 1pm, then pick smaller mushrooms. This gives a lower picking performance and lower production. If you stop at 4 pm, the last mushroom can grow for another three hours, that equals 12% extra production and you can leave larger mushrooms on the beds – after all they will grow less in 14 hours than in 17 hours.

But how can you organise the work so that your pickers spend a whole day harvesting in just one room? The answer is; planning. On the day before harvesting look at how many mushrooms have to be picked in a room. Then you can calculate precisely how many pickers you need to keep them occupied the whole day.

The evening before, inspect the rooms that are due to be harvested the next day. Look closely at all the beds and estimate how many mushrooms should be picked and which qualities. Look particularly closely at the size of the mushrooms. Use a list to note the grades and amounts: x kilo fine (35 – 45 mm), x kilo medium (45-60 mm), x kilo giants (< 60 mm) and x kilo mushrooms for processing. Repeat this procedure for each room in the first, second and, if any, third flush. Each size relates to a different picking performance. And each flush and quality has a specific picking speed. Taking all these factors into account will allow you to predict how many hours it will take to harvest the room.

If you want your pickers to work an 8-hour day, then calculate how many pickers you will need to complete the room. Depending on the phase, they will have to pick each bed three to six times – or maybe even more. In this case, instruct the pickers to harvest a bed for fifteen minutes. Pickers may not always feel comfortable with this constraint, they will think they are leaving too many mushrooms on the beds and not working hard enough. The opposite is true. As they will return to the same bed again within 90 minutes, it doesn’t matter that a few large mushrooms are left behind. What they have actually done is pick the biggest mushrooms in the whole of the room. In the final pass of the day they have to pick selectively so that the mushrooms left behind have enough space to continue growing until they are picked the next morning.

Avoid CO2 -increase
If a group of mushrooms grows with the caps touching, the CO2 value under the caps will sharply increase, causing the mushrooms to develop long stems, lose quality and fail to increase in weight. You can avoid this by following the instructions above.

Bron: Mushroom Blog – Mark den Ouden

Graze picking by planning with mushroom growing


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