Submitted to: Transactions of the ASAE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Hand harvesting apples is labor intensive, and the supply of dependable, skilled labor is a concern of the fruit industry. A harvest aid concept was developed to position two pickers close to the fruiting canopy of an inclined-trellised apple tree and reduce their tasks to only picking and dropping apples onto a cushioned catching surface. All other related harvest tasks were either eliminated or minimized. Field evaluation showe potential for increased picking rates, while maintaining high quality usually associated with hand harvesting. This research could lead to more efficient, cost-effective fruit harvesting.
Technical Abstract: A mechanical harvest aid was developed to position two pickers to remove apples from a narrow inclined trellis. The unit was designed to maximize the pickers' time spent locating and detaching fruit. In a field evaluation, the harvest aid showed potential for increasing picker productivity and decreasing picker fatigue. Pickers using the harvest aid increased their picking efficiency by 44% over conventional hand harvestin of 'Starkspur Golden Delicious' apples. Fruit quality from the harvest aid was as good as that from conventional hand harvesting.