The Citrustech Operational Group, which was set up to modernize citrus farms through mechanization and incorporation of technology, has begun testing mechanized harvesting and evaluating new mechanical pruning strategies.
The group will test the UCO-Maqtec prototype harvester, which was developed from an olive harvesting machine and adapted to work on citrus, as it harvests fruit destined for the industry. The machine is equipped with an adjustable shaking head for adjusting it to the citrus and olive harvest, so it can be used in both crops; facilitating its entry into the market.
The new cup shaker system performs a progressive and damage-free demolition of fruits, facilitating the cleaning and unloading of the fruits in the plantations. The rods penetrate the top of the tree and move the branches in a controlled manner, releasing the fruits on the collection platform, allowing harvesting 80% of the tree's fruits.
This development makes it possible to achieve a double objective in citrus plantations: carrying out early manual harvesting in which the workers can select the adequate sizes for the fresh market, and then a subsequent mechanized harvest, with the most mature fruit, for the industry.
The results show that mechanical pruning does not affect the production
A group of professors and technicians from the Valencian Institute of Agricultural Research and the Polytechnic University of Valencia published a new article in the scientific journal Agronomy showing the results of three years of evaluation of mechanical pruning on oranges of the Navel Foyos variety under Mediterranean conditions. They compared different manual and mechanical pruning strategies of various intensities and studied their effect on production and fruit sizes; also offering an economic analysis of the different strategies.
The results obtained show that mechanical pruning strategies do not affect production or fruit size in Navel Foyos oranges compared to manual pruning, but they do reduce the time required to prune and prune costs. This means producers will be able to use new tools to improve their profitability.