Generally picking is considered by many as a low education job. But on the other hand, we rely on our picking force to deliver a good quality mushroom, meeting the customer demands. No bruised mushrooms, no nail or knife damage, right stem length, straight cut stem, no weak mushrooms in the punnet and for all, the right size. And that is where many things go wrong. It is fairly easy to learn the pickers the right way of picking. Twist and do not pull. Do not take to many mushrooms in one hand so they do not get damaged and put them caps up into the punnet. But getting the calibration right is a constant struggle. Pickers tend to have the habit to pick too small and this will cost you money. They simply pick the mushrooms that were meant to be picked tomorrow. An extra thing to that is that pickers lose the bonus while working really hard.
For the right calibration there are many tools like fruit grading rings, grading cards and other different tools. But the easiest tool they have in their hands: the knife.
The knife most used in mushroom growing is the curved knife and the length of the blade is exactly 60 mm. The calibration most wanted on many farms is 55 to 60 mm. Generally, this size is picked first before thinning out. And this is just the size of mushroom that is as wide as the length of their knife. They just have to keep the knife just above the mushrooms to judge the size. This way the mushrooms can be calibrated before they are picked and they will not be damaged by any other form of grading tools. The rings only let mushrooms through which are small enough. The bigger mushrooms get stuck and will be damaged. But the mushrooms that go through easily are too small and that is the calibration the picker will harvest. By using the knife not only there will be no damage but it is also faster.
If a smaller calibration is harvested like a 40 mm mushroom, a line can be made on the blade with a marking pen. Especially new pickers will be very fast in learning this trick. By banning the calibration rings also, the hygiene on the farm is served. Because these rings are hard to clean and experience learns that they are always dirty and are taken from room to room.
Give it a try and your harvesting staff will be happy.