New approach to machine harvesting blueberries
The continued growth of the blueberry industry in the Pacific Northwest, coupled with the ongoing and critical labor shortages in the agriculture sector, has made it imperative to find new effective ways to harvest fresh market blueberries while still maintaining the highest quality of fruit. Conventional machine harvesting equipment causes too much damage to the fruit to make it a preferred option. A new method will help expand the number of blueberry varieties that can be efficiently harvested mechanically by using a “soft catch” surface developed for the OXBO over-the-row harvesting machine.
OSU Blueberry Extension Agent, Dr. Wei Qiang Yang, has been working on the overall effects of this improved technology for several years. In 2020 we continued to evaluate the effectiveness of using the modified OXBO machine on several important fresh market varieties. The results have been promising and will provide data on how to improve the efficiency of harvesting fresh market berries mechanically, on minimizing internal bruising damage, and on maintaining the best quality product for the market and consumers.
OXBO traditional machine (left) next to the new and modified “soft catch” machine.