A palm bunch is ready to be harvested when it has just a few loose fruits. It is essential that each palm is inspected at least once a fortnight for ripe bunches as over ripe fruits produce lower quality palm oil.

The major factors which affect the yield of the oil palm include the successful production of a large number of female species, the number of fruits set per bunch, the size of each fruit which is genetically determined although profoundly affected by the environment the mesocarp /kernel and finally the fruit /bunch ration Okpeke ( 1992).

It is clear tat although, the weight of oil in a fallen fruit doe s not increase, there will nevertheless, be an increase in the total weight of oil in bunch plus loose fruits if harvesting is delayed until the bunch has shed a large number of fruit. Infact, the total weight of oil produced by the bunch would be a maximum if it were allowed to remain on the tree until all its fruit has ripped and either fallen off or were on the point of falling off.

It would be possible to reduce the amount of loose fruit needing to be picked up to a minimum and thereby ensuring a very and free fatty Acid (FFA) for the oil produced. In the aspect of quality of oil, it will be very poor because, after a few days, microbiological spoilage of loose fruits will attach it, and the oil in such fruit would have a relatively high free fatty acid (FFA) and impaired bleach ability.

The harvesting process of kil palm estate is infact necessary and c/mpromIsed in two ways. Firstly, an intermediate standard mf ripeness must be aimed at such as is licely to give the best over all result i.e an acceptability low FFA and at the same time a reasonably high percent of oil extraction to bunch. Secondly, because the harvesting is not of one palm but thousands are involved it must be accepted that this aim will not be achieved fully and instead will be harvested covering a range of ripeness. Some being less ripe and some more ripped than the standard which would be aimed at if only one palm fruit were considered Okpeke, (1992).

To sum up, it may be said that with the harvesting force used and the minimum ripeness standard specified, a certain harvesting cycle time may be achieved. If conditions are suitable, this will give adequately low oil FFA combined with good oil extraction in bunch.
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