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Fruit Picking Machine Perfected At Family Orchard
New York fruit producers Paul and Walter Wafler say that after nearly 12 years of work, their self-propelled Huron Picking Platform is ready for market. Powered by a small GX series Honda engine, it uses just 2 1/2 gals. of gas in 8 hrs. and the Waflers say “it’s quiet and has plenty of torque, even on sloping land.” Controls allow the platform to move automatically at a certain speed or it can also be operated manually. The Picking Platform hauls up to 10,000 lbs. and is designed for tree rows 11 to 13 ft. apart. Pickers stand on platforms to reach from 5 to 10 ft. on the lower platform and 7 to 12 1/2 ft. on the upper platform. The ground level pickers reach up to 7 ft. into the trees.
  The brothers spent many hours tending trees and picking apples as kids. They earned engineering degrees in college, then eventually came back to the family business with the idea to design a machine to simplify their work. They collaborated with Cornell University over the years to perfect the Picking Platform. The design allows 8 workers to pick and fill 5 bins at a time. Three of the 5 bins rest on a sloping platform and 2 more are just above ground level. Four workers stand on platforms at two different levels on either side of the bins and pick fruit in sacks. When their sack is full, they turn about 180 degrees and place the fruit into the “V” at the bottom of their bin. When the bins are full, they’re replaced by 5 empty bins from a nearby trailer, which takes only about 5 minutes.
  “The apples have fewer bruises because the fruit doesn’t bounce around. That means fewer apples have to be used for juice,” the Waflers say. “We’ve been able to increase clean-picking productivity by 30 percent and about 100 percent for spot picking.”
  In addition to picking, the machine can be used for other orchard maintenance tasks such as pruning, drop wire installation, wire stringing, thinning branches, tree training, and pheromone application.
  The Picking Platform has patents pending and sells for $62,500.
   The clamp-style trailer straddles 5 bins sitting on the ground, extends its retractable forks under the box edges on each side, and then lifts them off the ground.
  An air suspension system on the trailer allows smooth, bump-free transport that minimizes damage to the fruit. The Bin Trailer weighs 2,500 lbs. empty and handles 5 bins that are 42 to 45 in. wide, 46 to 48 in. long and 27 to 32 in. high.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Huron Fruit Systems, 10748 Slaught Road, Wolcott, New York 14590 (ph 585 615-5262; www.huronfruitsystems.com).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #3