Submitted to: ASABE Annual International Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/24/2009
Publication Date: 7/7/2009
Citation: Funk, P.A., Walker, S.J. 2009. Green Chile Pepper Harvest Mechanization. Proceedings of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) 2009 Annual International Meeting. June 21-24, 2009, Reno, NV. Paper No. 095518. Interpretive Summary: Green chile is the most difficult specialty crop to mechanize. High pod attachment force requires aggressive harvest action, but fragile skin and low damage tolerance call for gentle treatment. Five mechanisms were tested in five varieties, and information was collected to support breeding and mechanization research. A commercial machine available from Israel was the most effective, gathering more fruit with less damage than the other four designs tested. This research helps maintain domestic production of a crop that is culturally significant and economically significant to the Southwest.
Technical Abstract: Pungent green chile (genus /Capsicum/, also spelled chili) is a large, fragile fruit growing on berry shrubs. Chile is harvested by hand to maximize yields and minimize fruit damage. Labor for hand harvesting chile is increasingly costly and difficult to obtain. Harvest mechanization is viewed as critical to retain chile production in the United States. Mechanical harvester field trials were conducted in green chile with commercial red chile harvesters and experimental green chile harvesters. Five cultivars replicated seven times each in two fields were used to test four harvester design concepts. Comparisons were made between cultivars and harvesters using field efficiency and mechanical damage. Twenty percent harvest loss can be accepted because of the savings with mechanical harvesting over hand picking. Mechanical damage varied from minimal to unacceptable with different designs.