Harvest Leader Manual

  Harvest: containers


For most large harvests the harvest director will arrange for trucks and containers with Marion Polk Food Share. It is crucial for the harvest leader, the harvest director and the food share staff to be clear about what is needed for the harvest. Do not leave it to food share staff to figure it out. Having the truck arrive at the harvest with the wrong containers or equipment can disrupt all the harvest plans.

From the scouting and harvest planning an estimate has been made of how much produce is expected. This needs to be translated into the required trucks, containers and equipment. Starting with some numbers (some of these are also found in the 'Database: formulas' section:

One large truck holds
8,000 pounds maximum
8 wooden pallets
8 medium (44" or 40") totes
8 cardboard melon totes on pallets
4 large (48") totes
Containers

We want to deliver produce to the food share in the containers that require them to do the least repacking. If we deliver apples in large totes, then each apple that our dozens of volunteers picked must be individually moved to smaller containers by food share staff. It is far more efficient overall for us to pack them in smaller containers as we pick. It also is less damaging to the produce.

Small fruit like strawberries, blueberries, and sometimes even cherries go into plastic clamshells.
Larger produce like apples, pears, onions and plums goes into banana boxes.
Largest produce like squash and pumpkins goes in field totes.

The smaller the container, the simpler it is to just get extras as a cushion. An extra case of clamshells is no trouble at all on a truck. Extra large wooden totes with steel frames (more than 200 pounds empty) make a lot of extra work because (for any harvest) the whole truck must be unloaded before the harvest.

Clamshells
Hold about 2.5 pounds
9 clamshells into a banana box
184 clamshells in a full case of clamshells
This means that 1 case of clamshells fills 20 banana boxes.

Banana boxes
6 on each layer on a pallet
5 layers (usually) of filled boxes on a pallet
6 layers (occasionally with lighter produce) on a pallet with wrapping or tying
7 layers (or 6 layers) of empty boxes on a pallet when we receive them at the harvest
Banana boxes are often provided in a 6 or 7 layer stack on a pallet wrapped with plastic. If the produce is going to be stacked only 5 layers high you need an extra empty pallet or two. Be sure to calculate the actual number of boxes and pallets that you need.

Field totes
There are several types and there is not always a choice about what is available. Cardboard melon totes on pallets hold about 600 pounds. Medium totes hold about 800 pounds. The largest wooden totes hold 1000 pounds. These are pretty rough numbers that vary with the produce and how much the totes are heaped.

Pallet jacks
Any time that you get pallets, you need a pallet jack. Never get an electric pallet jack. Always ask for a manual pallet jack.

Plastic wrap
If pallets of boxes will need to be stacked 6 layers high (broccoli is a good example since it is light), the layer(s) should be wrapped so that it does not topple in the truck. Sometimes we can get plastic wrap on a roller. Other times we have saved the warp from the stack of empty boxes and used that to tie around the top layer of the filled boxes.

Single-wall boxes
These boxes are about two-thirds the size of a banana box. The bottoms need to be folded and taped. They are much less strong than banana boxes and cannot support nearly as much weight above them.

They fit ten to a layer on a pallet but are usually stacked only 3 layers high. Four layers is possible if the boxes have no more than 20 pounds in them and the stack is wrapped fully with plastic wrap.

For most large harvests the harvest director will arrange for trucks and containers with Marion Polk Food Share. It is crucial for the harvest leader, the harvest director and the food share staff to be clear about what is needed for the harvest. food share staff to figure it out. Having the truck arrive at the harvest with the wrong containers or equipment can disrupt all the harvest plans.

From the scouting and harvest planning an estimate has been made of how much produce is expected. This needs to be translated into the required trucks, containers and equipment. Starting with some numbers (some of these are also found in the 'Database: formulas' section:

One large truck holds
8,000 pounds maximum
8 wooden pallets
medium (44" or 40") totes
cardboard melon totes on pallets
large (48") totes
Containers

We want to deliver produce to the food share in the containers that require them to do the least repacking. If we deliver apples in large totes, then each apple that our dozens of volunteers picked must be individually moved to smaller containers by food share staff. It is far more efficient overall for us to pack them in smaller containers as we pick. It also is less damaging to the produce.

Small fruit like strawberries, blueberries, and sometimes even cherries go into plastic clamshells.
Larger produce like apples, pears, onions and plums goes into banana boxes.
Largest produce like squash and pumpkins goes in field totes.

The smaller the container, the simpler it is to just get extras as a cushion. An extra case of clamshells is no trouble at all on a truck. Extra large wooden totes with steel frames (more than 200 pounds empty) make a lot of extra work because (for any harvest) the whole truck must be unloaded before the harvest.

Clamshells
Hold about pounds
clamshells into a banana box
184 clamshells in a full case of clamshells
This means that 1 case of clamshells fills 20 banana boxes.

Banana boxes
on each layer on a pallet
layers (usually) of filled boxes on a pallet
layers (occasionally with lighter produce) on a pallet with wrapping or tying
7 layers (or 6 layers) of empty boxes on a pallet when we receive them at the harvest
Banana boxes are often provided in a 6 or 7 layer stack on a pallet wrapped with plastic. If the produce is going to be stacked only 5 layers high you need an extra empty pallet or two. Be sure to calculate the actual number of boxes and pallets that you need.

Field totes
There are several types and there is not always a choice about what is available. Cardboard melon totes on pallets hold about pounds. Medium totes hold about 800 pounds. The largest wooden totes hold 1000 pounds. These are pretty rough numbers that vary with the produce and how much the totes are heaped.

Pallet jacks
Any time that you get pallets, you need a pallet jack. Never get an electric pallet jack. Always ask for a manual pallet jack.

Plastic wrap
If pallets of boxes will need to be stacked 6 layers high (broccoli is a good example since it is light), the layer(s) should be wrapped so that it does not topple in the truck. Sometimes we can get plastic wrap on a roller. Other times we have saved the warp from the stack of empty boxes and used that to tie around the top layer of the filled boxes.

Single-wall boxes
These boxes are about two-thirds the size of a banana box. The bottoms need to be folded and taped. They are much less strong than banana boxes and cannot support nearly as much weight above them.

They fit ten to a layer on a pallet but are usually stacked only 3 layers high. Four layers is possible if the boxes have no more than 20 pounds in them and the stack is wrapped fully with plastic wrap.


You expect to donate 4,000 pounds of broccoli that you know from experience is about 25 pounds per banana box. What do you need from the food share?
Large truck, 6 stacks of banana boxes on pallets, 1 manual pallet jack, roll of plastic wrap
Large truck, 5 stacks of banana boxes on pallets, 1 manual pallet jack
Small truck, 6 stacks of boxes, 2 cases of clamshells.
Explanation for question 1:
4000 pounds at 25 pounds per box = 160 banana boxes.
160 boxes stacked 5 high and 6 boxes to a layer = 5+ pallets
160 empty boxes at 36 to a stack = 4.4 stacks of empty boxes
So you need 5 pallets of empty boxes. If you stack them 5 high you would need another empty pallet, so go 6 high instead but you need to wrap them. Add another pallet in case you get more broccoli than you expected.


You are planning a blueberry harvest and expect to pick 1,600 pounds of blueberries. What do you need from the food share?

Small truck, 2 stacks of boxes, plastic wrap, extra empty pallet, 2 boxes of clamshells
Small truck, 4 stacks of boxes, pallet jack, 7 boxes of clamshells
Small truck, 2 stacks of boxes, pallet jack, 3 boxes of clamshells
Explanation for question 2:
1600 pounds picked = 800 pounds donated (this step is easy to forget!)
800 pounds = 32 boxes of filled clamshells
32 boxes is a little less than one stack of empty boxes 6 layers high
32 boxes need 32 x 9 = 288 clamshells
2 cases hold 368 clamshells or enough for 40 banana boxes. That should be plenty but a box of clamshells does not take much room on the truck.
Allowing extra of everything in case you get more than you expect, round up to two stacks of boxes and 3 boxes of clamshells.
This can all fit in a small truck.


You are planning a squash harvest and expect 12,000 pounds of squash to be picked. What do you need from the food share?

1 truck, 8 totes, pallet jack
2 trucks, 12 melon totes, pallet jack
2 trucks, 12 medium totes or 16 cardboard melon totes, pallet jack
Explanation for question 3:
This one is hard because pickers do not actually keep half the squash they pick, but we do not have any good numbers about how much less. They probably keep no more than a third. If they donate half (6,000 pounds), you will need one truck; if they donate more than two-thirds (8,000 pounds) you will need two trucks.

For this kind of problem it may be best to start with the number of pickers and look up the historical number of pounds per picker donated in the Reports Generator.

Assuming that they will donate 75%, or 9,000 pounds, you need two trucks. If there are cardboard melon totes that hold about 600 pounds, you need 15 of them (make it a full 16). If there are medium totes you need 11+ (round up to 12).



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