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

Citation:  Paper number  131596449,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Aitazaz Ahsan Farooque, Qamar Uz Zaman, Dominic Groulx, Tri Nguyen-Quang, David Yarborough, Arnold W Schumann, Young Ki Chang, Travis J Esau
Keywords:   Harvesting efficiency fruit losses mechanical harvester head revolutions and wild blueberry.

Abstract. This study was designed to evaluate the performance efficiency of the commercial wild blueberry harvester for fruit losses during harvesting. Two wild blueberry fields were selected in central Nova Scotia, Canada. A 3 x 3 factorial experiment was constructed to examine the joint effect of ground speed and header revolution per minute (rpm) on picking efficiency of the harvester. Eighty one yield plots (0.91 x 3 m) were selected randomly in each field. The field boundaries, bare spots, weeds and yield plots were mapped with a real-time kinematics global positioning system (RTK-GPS). The harvester was operated at specific levels of ground speed (1.20, 1.6 and 2.0 km h-1) and header rpm (26, 28 and 30) to collect total fruit yield, un-harvested berries on the plants, berries on the ground, and berries through blower, from each plot within selected fields. The treatment combinations of the chosen factors were assigned randomly within selected fields. The slope, plant height, and fruit zone were also recorded manually from each plot.

The results of classical statistics suggested that the pre-harvest fruit losses were lower in early season of harvesting. Un-harvested berries on the plants and losses through blower were significantly lower than losses on the ground for selected fields. Significant relationship between the fruit yield and total losses suggested that losses during harvesting were linear function of fruit yield within selected fields. Factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that ground speed, header rpm and their interaction were found to have significant impact on the picking efficiency of the harvester. Results of means comparison showed that a combination of 1.2 km h-1 and 26 rpm resulted in significantly lower losses when compared with other treatment combinations. Results also revealed that an ideal combination of ground speed and header rpm can minimize the fruit losses during harvesting, which will increase harvestable yield and ultimately enhance farm profitability.

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