Sponsor Agency: WTFRC
Karkee, M.*; De Kleine, M.; Lewis, K.M.; Zhang, Q.
Fresh market apple harvesting is currently done using manual labor in all fruit growing regions in the world. Because the labor cost is increasing and labor availability is increasingly uncertain, mechanized harvesting solutions are critically important for the sustainability of apple industry. In this work, two concepts for fresh market apple harvesting were developed and tested for trellised orchards in Washington State. The harvesting technique uses bi-directional rotating rubber wheels, and a shaking mechanism to detach apples from a fruiting wall trellised-branch. Rotation was varied between clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. Shaking was achieved to apply patterned and linear signal to the branches. Prototype machines were developed and evaluated in WA orchards. Performance of different techniques depended on apple varieties. Further studies on apple harvesting techniques are continuing and are listed under fundamental research.