Myrtle berries ripen towards the end of November and are picked from then until January.
No machine has yet been invented to substitute man in picking the berries without damage to the shrub. For this reason, the task is entrusted to expert pickers, who then consign the berries to processors.
The berries are picked by passing a large comb over the branches. In this way, the berries are detached and fall onto pieces of canvas or other containers placed at the base of the plant. Great care is taken so as not to damage the shrub, even if the ripe berries are easily detached from the branches, and the leaves, whose stems are firmly attached to the plant, are not broken.
Another system used for picking is that of hitting the branches with a stick so that the conuter-blow loosens the berries and makes them fall onto the canvas. The pickers' experience, but above all their love for the plant, ensures that the whole operation is delicately performed.
The myrtle plant represents an important source of income for pickers and it is to their advantage to keep the plant healthy so that it will bear fruit the following year. For some reason, myrtle plantations are not usually as subject to destruction by arson as other areas, as they are guarded by the pickers themselves.
After picking, cleaning operations begin. Pickers utilize a truly natural element: wind. Berries are lifted up and then let fall on the canvas again. In this way, the wind separates any impurities like dry leaves or twigs, which are lighter than the berries themselves. This operation may also be carried out indoors, in buildings equipped with powerful fans.
Once they have been cleaned, the berries are put into jute sacks, ready to be immediately shipped to processors. Jute facilities ventilation, letting the berries transpire and keeping them dry.