Submitted to: Fruit Nut and Vegetable Production Engineering
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 1, 2002
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: A two unit mechanical harvester was developed to harvest sweet cherries (Prunus avium L.) for the fresh market. On one unit the harvester operator used joysticks to position and engage a rapid displacement actuator (RDA) on main scaffolds to effect fruit removal. A catching conveyor was designed to intercept falling fruit without damage and elevate the fruit to a collecting conveyor. The other unit, on the other side of the tree row, ha a catching/collecting system similar to the first unit plus a trunk seal mechanism to catch the fruit that fell between the two units. There were three main scaffolds per tree that were inclined to reduce damage as cherries fell to the catching surface. Ethrel (2-chloroethl phosphonic acid) was used to reduce the fruit retention force of mature cherries to enable removal without stems and damage. The experimental harvester demonstrated potential for harvesting stemless sweet cherries with 9-88% fresh market quality and only 3% more damage than commercial hand harvesting. Positioning of the RDA and the trunk seal using hydraulic joysticks was effective and efficient. The catching/collecting system was effective with low damage inflicted to the cherries.