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New strawberry harvester to aid understaffed industry

The number of laborers willing to work in strawberry fields has been going down for years. At Wish Farms in Plant City, the dwindling labor force has been affecting the business for close to a decade.

Joe McGee, Executive Chairman and CEO of Harvest CROO Robotics, said he's probably losing 25% of his crop each year just because of shortage of labor. That is why more work has been invested for the last seven or eight years trying to figure out how to pick strawberries automatically.

Harvest CROO Robotics has developed a fully autonomous strawberry harvesting machine that can navigate its way through acres of fields, running about 20 hours a day. Commercial testing just wrapped up, and the company said it has a fully working robot that can fill the void of six to 10 human pickers.


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