OT? picking fruit

We have several large citrus trees on the property. Unlike (e.g.) apple/pear/etc trees, you can't really climb up into the tree to harvest the fruit at the top -- or "in" from the outer perimeter.
In the past, we've used a "picking basket" to yank the fruit off the tree. Something like: <http://www.homedepot.com/p/True-Temper-10-ft-Aluminum-Handle-Fruit-Picker-2324500/100466198>
But, this really only works well if the fruit are very ripe -- ready to "fall off". At times, we may have to pick a tree "early" when this isn't the case (e.g., in preparation for an early freeze -- esp the topmost portions of the tree). In those cases, the basket approach usually results in a fair bit of damage to the tree -- it tears off the small branches on which the fruit hang!
I stumbled on this device: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)> details at: <http://www.twisterfruitpicker.com/how-it-works/ that looks like it could be gentler on the trees (twisting the fruit on their stems usually results in a cleaner removal with less risk to damaging the tree, tearing off branches, etc).
But, it doesn't look like it will be able to handle our larger fruit (our oranges are usually the size of store-bought grapefruit, if not larger!). And, looks to be made out of cheap plastic so I suspect it won't hold up to much abuse (years of use).
But, I suspect I could fabricate something similar out of heavy gauge aluminum sheet stock? I.e., cut a lollipop shape and "twist" the top of the lollipop so that it is at right angles to the "arm" (which must then fit on a pivot). Coating the portion that would grab the fruit with a rubber compound (a can of "dip"??) would protect the fruit from any sharp edges.
Can anyone suggest a simpler fabrication method? Or, something that I could repurpose to the task at hand? I've also thought of modifying something like: <(Amazon.com product link shortened)> to extend the reach and put larger "cups" on the ends. I could probably get by with a 6 ft arm to reach from the outer perimeter (standing on a ladder) into the center of the tree.
Annoying that everyone insists on making cheap crap instead of something more durable!
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On 10/23/2015 1:26 PM, Don Y wrote:

This looks interesting:
http://satyamtool.com/garden_tools/SSG12_l.jpg
main page: http://satyamtool.com/gardentools_pg02.htm
--
Maggie

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On 10/23/2015 11:35 AM, Muggles wrote:

I'm not sure I understand how it is intended to work. It looks like you *cut* the fruit off the tree and it catches the fruit in the sack? If so, positioning the "cutter" to just snip the stem of the fruit seems like it would be difficult. I'd imagine you'd end up resorting to just snipping the end of the branch, instead?
The basket approach *tugged* on the fruit. The "twister" product seems to have the correct approach (grab the fruit firmly and twist it off). I'm just concerned as to how long such a device would hold up and whether it would be able to handle our larger fruit (the basket would accommodate up to 6-8" diameter fruit; ours are frequently in the 5" range)
[Consider it is not uncommon to have several hundred fruit on a single tree. So, a single picking season is several thousand "actuations"]
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On 10/23/2015 1:55 PM, Don Y wrote:

I guess that's pretty much it.

I like the idea of it having a snipper to cut the fruit off at the stem and a bag to catch it in. I was thinking you might be able to use the idea and incorporate all the pros into whatever you decide to design yourself.

How tall are the trees?
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Maggie

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On 10/23/2015 12:42 PM, Muggles wrote:

There's not much of a "stem" on the fruit. And, they're "balls" so you'd need wide jaws to any cutter if it was to avoid catching the flesh of the fruit.

Probably about 15 feet. But, just as wide. So, when picking the top of the tree on a ladder, you have to lean in 6 ft or more to get the fruit at the top of the tree. Those *inside* are even more tedious (many citrus have nasty thorns -- like Christ's "crown of thorns"... not tiny little rose bush thorns!)
The trees extend almost to the ground (imagine a 15 ft diameter ball of green with orange or yellow specks on/in it). So, when trying to pick it clean, I have to resort to crawling *under* the lowest branches, then thread my body up through the branches and stand on my toes to reach any of the "internal" fruit. SWMBO stands outside the perimeter and I hand individual fruit to her which she places in a sack.
It would be much preferable to just reach in with a pole and isolate individual fruit. The "twist picker" looks ideal save for the size and wear issues. I'm not sure how it would work for the pomegranates, though.
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On 10/23/2015 4:20 PM, Don Y wrote:

Well, you could always invent what you really want.
--
Maggie

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Don,
The local Ag Ext agent may know and recommend various tools. I looked and couldn't find a warranty. I'd guess 3-5 yrs as a lifetime for the twister. It's a nice idea
Dave M..
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Hi Dave,
On 10/23/2015 4:03 PM, David L. Martel wrote:

We've been disgusted with the local office. Ask them things that *should* be appropriate questions for this part of the country (hey, it's not like I'm trying to grow MacCoun apples!) and they look at you like someone in Boston would if you asked him how to grow a palm tree! :<

It's the *perfect* solution (conceptually). You can tug on the fruit until the branches snap (further up) and it will still cling tenaciously to its mount. But, a bit of a twist and it just falls into your hand!
Even if it *had* a warranty, it's one of those things that *must* work WHEN YOU NEED IT! It's not like I can say "Oh, I'll wait until NEXT harvest to use it as the replacement product won't be here before the freeze, tonight..."
It *looks* like the sort of thing you'd expect to see advertised on TV -- with the tagline: "But, wait! There's more! Act now and we'll send you -- not ONE but -- TWO (just pay separate shipping and handling)..."
If I knew someone who could sand-cast an aluminum knock-off, I'd buy one and use it as a model (for the casting).
I may try the local Bed/Bath/Beyond or other similar stores to see what I can repurpose. Maybe some BBQ tools? The thing isn't rocket science...
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Per Don Y:

I made a few of these for my apples: http://www.instructables.com/id/PVC-FRUIT-PICKER/
Broken windsurfer masts made nice light poles.
Box cutter blades instead of the razor blades shown - plus a Dremel tool to take the points off the ends of the blades (don't ask how I discovered the necessity for that.... ).
Not too bad once you get the feel for aligning the razor blade just so before pulling. Blades should be replaced each season for best effect.
OTOH, we only use them once a year on less than a dozen trees.
--
Pete Cresswell

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On 10/23/2015 6:28 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

OK, I see how it is intended to work. I'm not sure it would (physically) "fit" here -- see photos posted up-thread.

I think the real solution is the "twist off" approach. The lower branches get picked by hand, like that, and it's quick and easy. Never "damage" anything in the process.
By contrast, when we used the "basket" we ended up with a fair number of broken branches. Branches take longer to grow back than fruit!

It takes us a few hours to pick each tree. We try to leave the navels on the tree as long as possible and just pick them as we eat them. Every extra day lets the sugars develop further. The lemons, limes and valencias get picked clean and juiced (though they all come ready at different times of the year).
Taking out the trash after one of these "juicing days" is always tedious; the juiced hulks weigh a sh*tload!
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On 10/23/2015 9:52 PM, Don Y wrote:

Now I was some fresh juice. {makes note on grocery list}
--
Maggie

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On 10/23/2015 11:17 PM, Muggles wrote:

typo: Now I WANT some fresh juice!
--
Maggie

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Uncle Monster posted for all of us...

But you need someone to accompany them with an accordion...
--
Tekkie

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