Table of Contents
Agronomy, Volume 7, Issue 2 (June 2017)
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Cover Story (view full-size image) The growth of the blueberry industry in the past three decades has been remarkably robust. However, [...] Read more. The growth of the blueberry industry in the past three decades has been remarkably robust. However, a labor shortage for hand harvesting, increasingly higher labor costs, and low harvest efficiencies are becoming bottlenecks for sustainable development of the fresh market blueberry production. Research into mechanical harvesting of blueberries with over-the-row (OTR) machines has been ongoing since the 1950s. However, due to several design limitations of OTRs and problems with damage to fruit during the mechanical harvesting process with OTR machines have made delivery to fresh markets and postharvest longevity problematic. We evaluated semi-mechanical harvesting systems consisting of a harvest-aid platform with soft fruit catching surfaces that collected the fruit detached by portable, hand-held, pneumatic shakers. The softer fruit catching surfaces were not glued to the hard sub-surfaces of the harvest-aid platform, but suspended over them. Also, the ergonomic aspect of operating po