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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Kearneysville, West Virginia » Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory » Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #328386

Research Project: Production Management Research for Berry Crops

Location: Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection

Title: Toward a semi-mechanical harvesting platform system for harvesting blueberries with fresh-market quality

item HU, BO - Qingdao University
item YANG, WEI - Oregon State University
item ANDREWS, HEATHER - Oregon State University
item LI, CHANGYING - University Of Georgia
item Takeda, Fumiomi

Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Major concerns related to harvesting blueberries for fresh market with over-the-row (OTR) harvesters are that the quality of the fruit harvested with OTR machines is generally low and ground loss is excessive. Machine-harvested blueberries have more internal bruise and usually soften rapidly in cold storage. The objective of this study was to evaluate the fruit quality and several harvest parameters of highbush blueberries ('Aurora', 'Draper', 'Legacy', and 'Liberty') harvested by: 1) hand, 2) hand-held, air-powered olive shaker, and 3) mechanical OTR harvester. The fruit harvested with an air-powered shaker was collected on a net surface attached to a portable catch frame. For each plant, the weight of total detached and green/red fruit, fruit firmness, internal bruise, Brix (%), pH, and titratable acidity (TA) was determined. Also, weight loss, firmness, and internal bruise after one day at room temperature (RT) and after one, two, three, and four weeks in cold storage, plus one day at RT were measured. The air-powered shaker removed 3.5 to 15 times more fruit (g/min) than by hand. All samples lost weight in cold storage, but the difference between harvest methods was small (<5%). In all cultivars, Brix was lower and TA was higher in fruit harvested with powered shakers than by hand or OTR harvester. Fruit firmness was higher in fruit harvested by hand compared to the air-powered shaker harvested method in 'Liberty', same in 'Aurora' and 'Legacy', and lower in 'Draper'. The operating pressure and tine length has little effect on fruit quality parameters, but more fruit (3x to 15x) was harvested by shaking with long tines at 454 KPa than with short tines and at 310 KPa. The average bruised area and percentage of fruit with >19% bruised was less in 'Aurora' and 'Draper' than in 'Legacy' and 'Liberty'. There was a slight difference in bruising due to shaking parameters, but the bruise was less than 8% in fruit harvested by hand and with the air-powered shaker compared to >25% in 'Legacy' harvested by an OTR harvester. These results indicated a good potential for harvesting fresh-market quality blueberries using hand-held, air-powered shakers and a portable fruit catch frame. The scale-neutral harvesting system should be attractive, especially to small- and medium-size blueberry growers.