Harvest Leader Manual

  Scouting: amounts


The specific site information that is needed to plan a successful harvest may vary, but getting all the details is important. This means obtaining and writing down measurements and numbers. Do as much specific measuring and counting as possible because the decisions that you make later will depend on these details. Quick estimates can be very inaccurate, especially if you are making them later from memory. It is very hard to look at an orchard and estimate a weight. It is much better to estimate one typical tree and multiply by the number of trees, for instance.

Scouting and research about the crop must eventually be distilled down to two numbers: How many pounds are available to harvest? and How many roster slots will be posted for the harvest?

How many pounds are available to harvest?

Several sources of information may be needed to determine this. The more corroborating sources you have, the better. Property owners tend to know their crops well, but have sometimes been very inaccurate in estimating amounts. Do not rely solely on crop owners' estimates.

Things you can do to get an accurate estimate of the pounds that are available:

  • Ask the crop owner.
  • Measure the site. This may mean pacing off the dimensions or measuring on an aerial photograph in the database or on Google Earth.
  • Count the plants. This can be fairly simple for an orchard. For crops like beans it may mean counting rows and measuring the spacing of plants.
  • Look up previous harvests that Merced County Gleaning has done at the site or with similar crops.
  • Do sample harvesting. While not always practical, actually picking a plant of, for instance, green beans, can give you a good idea of the pounds that are available and how long it takes to pick. It can be useful to take few minutes to even just imagine this in detail: “If I were picking that apple tree how long would it take and how many buckets would I fill?” Remember, though, that the larger the harvest the fewer pounds per picker result and what you can pick in a short time may be considerably quicker than the average picker at a harvest. Use this method as one factor among several in your estimate.


The specific site information that is needed to plan a successful harvest may vary, but getting all the details is important. This means obtaining and writing down measurements and numbers. Do as much specific measuring and counting as possible because the decisions that you make later will depend on these details. Quick estimates can be very inaccurate, especially if you are making them later from memory. look at an orchard and estimate a weight. It is much better to estimate one typical tree and multiply by the number of , for instance.

Scouting and research about the crop must eventually be distilled down to two numbers: How many pounds are available to harvest? and How many will be posted for the harvest?

How many pounds are available to harvest?

Several sources of information may be needed to determine this. The more corroborating sources you have, the better. Property owners tend to know their crops well, but have sometimes been very inaccurate in estimating amounts. Do not rely solely on crop owners' estimates.

Things you can do to get an accurate estimate of the pounds that are available:

  • Ask the crop owner.
  • Measure the site. This may mean pacing off the dimensions or measuring on an aerial photograph in the database or on Google Earth.
  • Count the plants. This can be fairly simple for an orchard. For crops like beans it may mean counting rows and measuring the spacing of plants.
  • Look up previous harvests that Merced County Gleaning has done at the site or with similar crops.
  • Do sample harvesting. While not always practical, actually picking a plant of, for instance, green beans, can give you a good idea of the pounds that are available and how long it takes to pick. It can be useful to take few minutes to even just imagine this in detail: “If I were picking that apple tree how long would it take and how many buckets would I fill?” Remember, though, that the larger the harvest the pounds per picker result and what you can pick in a short time may be considerably than the average picker at a harvest. Use this method as one factor among several in your estimate.


When a leader has more experience at scouting:
Counting and measuring are not necessary.
You learn that the owner estimates is the best guide to weight.
You find that aerial views in Google Maps are useful.
If you pick a sample amount when scouting:
It is best to do it as quickly as possible.
Consider that the average picker is probably faster.
It is one measure to include with other ways of estimating a crop.
An orchard has 15 rows of 5 trees each. You estimate 75 pounds on the average tree. About how many pounds are available?
4600
5600
6200
A one acre blueberry field has plants all spaced 4 feet apart. You pick a typical bush and get 2 pounds. An acre is about 43,000 square feet. About how many pounds are there to pick?
4000
6500
5000
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers in half a row of a 6 row garden, and a peck of pickled peppers weighs 22 pounds, how many pounds are there to pick?
264
186
164