Researchers at Washington State University and a host of other Land Grant institutions continue to push for harvesters that can pull fruit destined for fresh markets. WSU’s Lisa DeVetter has been working with private companies, USDA researchers in western Washington and others on a mechanical harvester for fresh blueberries.
“One of our collaborators at the University of Georgia, he was able to develop a sensory that was in the shape of a blueberry and about the size of a large blueberry. We could run that through machines, we could have it simulate what a blueberry fruit would experience as it’s going through all of these different depths from harvesting to in a clamshell for a consumer and it would tell us where are we getting the major impacts, how severe are they, and what it means in terms of the quality of the fruit.”
DeVetter noted the push for mechanized harvesting fresh fruit is nothing new: “What is new is just the amount of intensity of research that’s being focused on it. There’s multiple scientists and collaborators that are working both nationally and internationally on this very topic because we now have better technologies.”
She notes sensors are in the work to measure potential fruit damage which would assist mechanical harvesters at minimizing damage at harvest.