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Mechanical harvesting of peaches: Limited potential

Mechanical harvesting of peaches: Limited potential

Hortscience 30(5): 985-987

This study evaluated the total and marketable yield of three peach cultivars (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch. 'Autumnglo', 'Harvester', and 'Redhaven') when mechanical pruning and harvesting systems were used and trees were grown under three irrigation regimes. All cultivars were trunk-shaken using an experimental inertial shaker on an over-the-row (OTR) shake-catch harvester. 'Autumnglo' also was hand-harvested at all irrigation regimes. Fruit damage was not significantly affected by irrigation. A significant source of fruit damage was pruning debris that remained in the canopy after hedging and became lodged in the fruit-conveying system, resulting in cultivar effects on fruit damage. Total yield of firm-ripe fruit was similar among cultivars in 1987 and 1988. However, 'Autumnglo' trees had a higher percentage of marketable fruit than 'Redhaven' or 'Harvester' in 1987 and 1991. Mechanical harvesting appeared to accelerate the decline of 'Autumnglo' as shown by tree deaths and greater symptom expression of Prunus necrotic ringspot virus. The potential for a single mechanical harvest of peaches is limited because of the difficulty in managing the ripening window, the high potential for fruit damage, and the possibility of accelerated tree decline for disease-susceptible cultivars.

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Accession: 009001214

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