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Handheld Seed Harvester

"You can harvest seed ten times faster with my handheld seed harvester than doing it by hand," says Jim Alwill, Prairie Earth Nursery, Bradford, Ill.
  Alwill collects a lot of prairie seed in areas that a combine can't get to, such as steep hillsides, along railroads, and roadside ditches. Some of the seeds he collects include Indian Grass, big bluestem, little bluestem, switch grass, dropseed, liatris, New England aster, goldenrods, and golden aster.
  He says his harvester works great for small seed producers such as prairie seed producers, university seed production facilities, grass seed farms, etc., as well as teachers and native plant nurseries.
  The harvester is made from lightweight plywood and measures 18 in. long, 18 in. wide, and 4 in. deep. It has a plastic handle on top. The box is equipped with a nonbreakable plastic comb with 2-in. long teeth at one end, with a recessed opening above it to allow the seed stalks to clear the box.
  To harvest seed, you hold the box with one hand and use your other hand to hold the stalks in place while pulling the box across the plant material. The force of friction strips the seed off the stalk. If the seed isn't ripe, in most cases it will stay on the stalk.
  "I keep a canvas tote tied to my belt which I use to dump the seed into," says Alwill. "Usually I carry a separate box for each seed species that I'm gathering. This helps to keep the seed pure.
  "Some people put a harness on the box and hang it from their neck to distribute some of the weight. Or, you can just put the butt end of the box up against your belt as you walk through the grass. I can pick 5 lbs. of Indian grass in less than 30 minutes."
  If you're growing a crop like vegetables or grass seed and find a particular plant that's different from all the rest, and you'd like to harvest the seed just from that one plant or small colony, the harvester works great for that, too, he says. "I've been using the first box I made for the last nine years. I've sold this harvester to several local native plant nurseries, The Nature Conservancy, and a local college. If you're picking large areas, this seed harvester will pay for itself within the first day of use."
  Sells for $40 plus $15 S&H.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jim Alwill, Prairie Earth Nursery, RR 1, Box 151, Bradford, Ill. 61421 (ph 309 645-1109 or 309 897-9911; email: Jim_Alwill@yahoo.com).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #4