Water Had To Be Blown Off Nearly-Ripe Fruit To Prevent Damage
It probably looked a little like a scene from Apocolypse Now as a group of helicopters hovered over cherry groves near Bellingham, WA. But the aircraft were enlisted to save the cherry crop that was nearly ready for harvest.
The area had received about five hours of rain as the crop neared it's peak of ripeness, and water can be absorbed very quickly by the ripening fruit, causing cracking in the skin and making the crop worthless. One of the methods used to get the water off the fruit before it can be absorbed is to have heliocopters fly slowly some 15 to 20 feet above the trees, literally blowing the water off the fruit.
The aircraft move up and down the rows of trees, sometimes as the rain is still falling, according to a story appearing in the Bellingham Herald. Ron Cline, who owns Central Valley Helicopters in Ellensburg, said while he knows his low-flying helos are somtimes an annoyance to the community, they preserve a cherry-growers investment.
The paper says that cherries are the only fruit which needs to be protected in such a manner.