Frequently, we receive inquires as to the safety of using rakes to pick huckleberries. Over the years, we have responded to comments with the facts about the issue.
Last week, we received the following comment from Valerie:
“How rude! When you use the rake you are not telling rakers they are killing the bush.”
The blueberry industry has been using rakes to pick commercial berries for several decades, maybe even a century.
Native Americans traditionally harvested huckleberries using rakes carved from wood, or made from the backbone of a salmon or steelhead together with the rib cage on one side.
No one would be using rakes if they even damaged the plants, much less killed them.
The teeth on a huckleberry raking tools are typically set with a 3/16 inch gap. This allows the tiny twigs (huckleberries only grow on the current years growth) to pass through unharmed, but will pop off all but the tiniest berries.
While it is theoretically possible to damage a huckleberry plant with a rake, if misused (after all, you can easily kill someone with a screwdriver, which is not the intended use), doing so would be counter productive. The aggressiveness required to damage a bush would put so much trash into your bucket, that the berries would not be worth trying to pick out of the mess.
You will get a few more leaves with a rake that by hand picking. This is because the leaves are nearing their traditional leaf fall which occurs every autumn, and using a rake is less selective than hand picking (and bumps the twiglets a bit more). But you get leaves, even with handpicking… and for the same reason.
I guess that when people hear the term “rake” it SOUNDS like a tool that you would SCRAPE against the branches. However, this is far from the case. Berry picking tools are designed to minimize contact with the plant itself, while capturing as many berries as possible.
Which is why even the most environmentally conscious huckleberry lover, probably owns a rake or two… you can easily pick 3x as many berries with the same investment of time and gas into the woods. And if the berries are thick, you can get 10X the berries in the same amount of effort.
See more at the following websites:
- Huckleberry Rakes
- Use of the Huckleberry Rake (videos and instructions)
- Huckleberry Picking Tool Myths
And thanks, Valerie, for your comment! We appreciate the opportunity to clear up this common misconception.