What is a Cherry Picker?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Cherry pickers are simple platforms that can be lifted to different heights by means of a hydraulic system. Also known as a boom lift or basket crane, a cherry picker can be utilized for a number of different tasks, many of them unassociated with agriculture. While some models require two people to operate the machinery, many modern designs allow one person to control the hydraulic system using controls that are mounted on the platform.

Cherry pickers allow workers to be raised high in the air.
Cherry pickers allow workers to be raised high in the air.

The fanciful name for this type of man lift or hydraladder is derived from the original use of the machinery. Developed to make it possible to hand pick ripe fruit from the upper branches of various types of fruit trees, the cherry picker was an ideal tool for use in orchards. With the earliest designs, the device was mounted on the back of a truck, and required someone to remain at ground level to maneuver the basket into the proper position. Over time, a duplicate set of controls were added to the basic design, making it possible for one person to park the truck, enter the basket, and move the basket into the best position.

One of the most common uses of a cherry picker has to do with working on wiring mounted on utility poles.
One of the most common uses of a cherry picker has to do with working on wiring mounted on utility poles.

While still used in commercial orchards, the cherry picker is also utilized for a number of other tasks. One of the most common has to do with working on wiring mounted on utility poles. Electricity and telephone companies operate trucks outfitted with cherry pickers to deal with lines that are down, or to run new lines as needed. In the last few decades, cable television companies have also utilized cherry pickers to manage wiring that is mounted on poles and provide cable service to surrounding residences.

Construction companies as well as fire departments also make use of the cherry picker. The devices make it possible to reach building exteriors from angles that would be impossible to manage otherwise. Arborists make use of the devices in order to work with trees that cannot be climbed safely. Professional painters also use a cherry picker in place of a ladder to paint exterior walls of homes and various types of public buildings.

Because the cherry picker is used in so many different work situations, an individual who is familiar with the equipment can find employment in a number of different trades and professions. Over the years, enhancements to the basic concept of the device have made the use of the cherry picker much safer. This is especially important when the job calls for working with power lines or attempting to perform tasks that are far above ground level. Additions such as enclosed baskets, insulated interiors, and safety harnesses are now common features of many types of cherry pickers.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Getting a clear of the usage of cherry pickers is very essential. It is hard to use this machine if not operated appropriately. These crane lifts can prove dangerous.


There is also an exercise I learned that is called a cherry picker, mimicking the movement of this machinery and the act of picking cherries off of a tree.

While standing, raise one or both arms straight up above your head. Then bend them slightly as you pinch your fingertips together with your thumb on each hand, as though you're grasping something. Then squeeze to apply pressure and hold for as long as possible.

It is harder than it looks, and can be done anywhere.

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