Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2003
Publication Date: September 1, 2003
Citation: PETERSON, D.L., WOLFORD, S.D. FRESH MARKET QUALITY TREE FRUIT HARVESTER, PART II: APPLES. APPLIED ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE. 2003. 19(5):545-548. Interpretive Summary: Labor shortages and increasing costs of harvesting apples for the fresh market are putting an economical burden on the apple industry. A mechanical harvester was developed to remove fresh market quality apples grown on narrow inclined trellises. Tests demonstrated the potential to harvest up to 84% Extra Fancy fruit of fresh market quality. The biggest obstacles to commercialization at the present time are too many apples with cuts and punctures.
Technical Abstract: A two-sided mechanical harvester was developed to remove apples grown on narrow-inclined trellises. Units were essentially mirror images. On each unit the harvester operator used joysticks to position and engage a rapid displacement actuator (RDA) on main scaffolds to effect fruit removal. Catching conveyors were designed to intercept falling fruit without damage and elevate the fruit to a collecting conveyor. Cushioned catcher pans on each unit were used to seal around the trunk and connect the two units. Tests on eight cultivars of apples yielded 59 to 84 % Extra Fancy packout. Cuts and punctures were the biggest factor preventing the harvester from harvesting a higher level of fresh market quality fruit. Stempulls with this harvesting technique ranged from 20 to 57%, depending on cultivar, and may create a decay problem. Cultivar growth habit varied greatly and their adaptability to this harvesting concept.