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Estimates of mechanization effects on fresh blueberry quality



Estimates of mechanization effects on fresh blueberry quality



Applied engineering in agriculture 12(1): 21-26



Fresh market blueberries are usually hand picked so that they will possess high quality, long shelf life, and good consumer appeal. Continuing expansion of U.S. production and markets for fresh blueberries requires that mechanical harvesting methods be developed that provide berries having high quality. In 1992 tests, 'Bluecrop' berries that were commercially hand picked had an average of 77% of the berries either damage free or with slight internal bruising after sorting. Conventional mechanical harvesters had an average of 22% of the berries that were damage free or slightly bruised. In 1993 tests, an experimental harvester, that required the bushes to be divided into a V-shape during the shaking operation and handled the berries gently, had an average of 68% of the berries that were damage free or slightly bruised. Drop test evaluated berry bruise sensitivity and identified safe cushioning for packing lines and harvesters. Extensive bruising resulted when drop height to a hard surface exceeded 150 mm (6 in.). Cushioning materials were identified that prevented bruising for drop heights as great as 0.6 to 1.2 m (24 to 48 in.) on packing lines or harvesters.

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