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Green Chile Pepper Harvest Mechanization

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2009 Reno, Nevada, June 21 - June 24, 2009  095518.(doi:10.13031/2013.28552)
Authors:   Paul A Funk, Stephanie J Walker
Keywords:   Capsicum annuum, Chili, Harvest efficiency, Paprika, Specialty crop mechanization

High cost and unavailability of labor for hand harvest has resulted in domestic chile production declining even as consumption grows. Mechanization is necessary but has resisted four decades of diligent research effort. Five picking mechanisms were tested in five cultivars in two fields in New Mexico in 2008. Harvest efficiency was 42% to 90%, with 11% to 45% mechanical damage for a net collection of marketable peppers that ranged from 28% to 80% of total yield. An inclined counter-rotating open-helix design with a clear product path had the highest harvest efficiency and lowest percentage of product damage. Cultivar response to mechanical harvest provided feedback for the New Mexico State University chile breeding program.

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