Location: Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory
Project Number: 8080-21000-025-05
Start Date: May 15, 2013
End Date: Jun 30, 2015
Analysis will be performed of commercial blueberry harvesters, fruit harvesting and handling methods, and packing house operation with the BIRD and other mechanical engineering sensors. Studies will be conducted to collect multiple data points in the field to analyze commercial blueberry harvesters and field transport systems, and packing house operation. Accelerometers, and strain and compression gauges will be mounted on blueberry plants, lugs, and pallets to determine mechanical forces that fruit is exposed to during harvesting and transportation. These will include lugs riding pull-behind carts, then loaded on pallets, and handled by a fork lift onto trucks or directly on a fork lift for transport to the packing house, where they will be unloaded and moved into a pre-cooling room. A series of machine runs will be performed to correlate the force measured by accelerometers mounted on the bush. Packing house operation will be performed with the introduction of the BIRD sensor alone and with blueberry fruit on the packing line. Drop tests of each cultivar harvested during the day and at night will be dropped from a height of 1 m and 0.5 m onto hard and soft contact surfaces. We will install one-axial accelerometers oriented horizontally and vertically on lugs to describe the motion and sudden changes in direction that lugs go through during various handling processes. Fruit will be analyzed after one or two weeks in cold storage. We will determine the effect of harvesting fruit in cool and hot periods on fruit quality after cold storage. The dropped fruit along with non-dropped fruit will be placed into clamshells and put in cold storage. The stored fruit will be evaluated for firmness and bruise incidence after seven days.