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Assessment of a Prototype Sweet Cherry Harvester

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

Citation:  Paper number  131618476,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Peter Ako Larbi, Manoj Karkee, Qin Zhang, Matthew David Whiting
Keywords:   cherry harvesting, shake and catch, operator safety, harvest efficiency, harvester performance

Abstract. A two-unit (mirrored pair) mechanical harvester for fresh market quality stem-free sweet cherries was developed in the early 2000s and tested in different orchard settings over the past decade. Each unit required a separate driver who controlled all operations from a fixed seat at the rear. This position limited the operators’ field of view, thus reducing worker productivity. In the present study, we report on improvements made to one unit of the harvester that allowed remote control of operations in order to improve harvest efficiency and worker productivity. Further, the harvester’s actuation mechanism was replaced with a shaking mechanism and we installed a new hydraulic system. The system’s electrical wiring was upgraded and configured for remote operation and a remote control unit was developed to run all the harvester’s operations. An experiment was carried out in an experimental sweet cherry orchard to assess the operation and harvest performance of the modified machine. The use of remote control increased operator’s field of view and contributed to improved efficiency of maneuvering and locating shaking points on scaffolds for fruit removal. Estimated harvest rate was 90 h/ha, with harvester capacity up to 556 kg/h. Harvest rate was negatively related with number of scaffold branches per tree and shaking time per shaking point. Fruit removal efficiency was up to 89%, out of which 75% to 94% fruit were collected by the harvester. These results are expected to improve with better tree training, treating trees with an abscission agent, reducing shaking time per point, and operator experience.

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