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Fruit Accessibility for Mechanical Harvesting of Fresh Market Apples

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

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1801007.(doi:10.13031/aim.201801007)
Authors:   Long He, Xin Zhang, Manoj Karkee, Qin Zhang
Keywords:   Fresh market apples, mechanical harvesting, fruit accessibility, shake-and-catch, fruit quality


Apple is one of the most valuable fruit crops in the United States. Currently, hand picking is the only commercial harvesting method for fresh market apples, which is labor intensive and costly. As fruit trees are increasingly trained towards more uniform and modernized architectures, the ability for mechanical harvesting to achieve high harvesting efficiency with good fruit quality is in reach. The remaining challenge, for even with the most modernized orchard architectures, is the ability to adapt to the many variations of tree canopies and fruit distribution that occur among fruit varieties. To provide comprehensive information for the mass mechanical harvesting, in this paper, a fruit accessibility concept was proposed to identify and analyze the fruit detachment, fruit collection and fruit quality with respect to shaking input, catching capability as well as bruising potential. Field experiments were conducted with our previously-developed two shake-and-catch harvesting systems. The fruit removal efficiency, potential of selective harvesting, fruit collection, and fruit quality were analyzed. The outcomes from this study could provide guideline information for mechanical harvesting system design and machine-friendly tree structure management.

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