How to Harvest Jojoba Oil

Overview

The jojoba (ho-HO-ba) bean produces a waxy ester that is commonly referred to as jojoba oil. This ester is very stable, mimics the oil produced by human skin, and has a wide range of uses in the cosmetics industry and even as a lubricant in vehicles and heavy machinery. Jojoba grows well in the deserts of the southwest United States and in Mexico and in other deserts around the world. Harvesting jojoba presents several challenges, the biggest of which is that the beans (seeds) do not ripen at the same time. Also, jojoba plants typically produce well one year and then produce very little the following year. This makes it difficult for farmers to justify the expense of mechanical harvesting equipment that can only be used every other year. For these reasons, harvesting Jojoba oil is primarily done by hand, making the process very labor intensive and making the resultant oil somewhat expensive.

Step 1

Run an over-the-row fruit and berry harvester over your jojoba plants to knock the ripe berries to the ground. Because not all berries ripen at the same time it might be necessary to run the harvester over your crop twice each season.

Step 2

Rake the fallen seeds into windrows so they can be easily collected. The actual seeds will be inside their hulls at this point.

Step 3

Pick up seeds by shovels and place them on a screen where small rocks and dirt are screened out. Dump the screened seeds into a truck or cart and transport them to the cleaning area.

Step 4

Dump the seeds into an air blower to separate additional dirt, leave and twigs from the seeds.

Step 5

Place the seeds in a water tank. Here, any stones that are still mixed with the seeds fall to the bottom and the jojoba seeds float. Skim off the seeds and place them on a drying rack.

Step 6

Place the dried seeds in a hulling machine to remove the hulls from the seeds.

Step 7

Run the seeds through a cold press machine to remove the wax/oil from the seeds and collect the amber-colored oil in bottles.

Things You'll Need

  • Jojoba plants
  • Over-the-row fruit and berry harvester
  • Rakes
  • Screens
  • 5-gallon buckets
  • Blowers
  • Water tanks
  • Drying racks
  • Huller
  • Cold press
  • Bottles

References

  • La Ronna Jojoba Co.: Jojoba Harvesting
  • Purdue University: Alternative Field Crops Manual
Keywords: harvest jojoba oil, pick jojoba seeds, collect jojoba beans

About this Author

Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for TV, everything from SMURFS to SPIDER-MAN.