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Automated Berry Harvester Reduces Fruit Loss
“Our new harvester uses high volume, low pressure air to move blueberries and raspberries through the machine, reducing field loss beneath the plants by as much as 60 percent,” says Blueline Manufacturing owner Gregg Marrs.
Marrs says the all-wheel drive machine uses a CANBUS system that reduces wiring and hydraulic hose circuits by 25 pecent. The operator platform has a touch screen control system that shows the speed of each machine operation. As the machine moves through the field, the automated air knife pushes picked berries onto plates, and then to a conveyor and collecting bins.
This 3rd generation harvester has its own 75 hp. engine with 4-WD. Harvest speeds depend on factors such as fruit ripeness, plant size, variety and pruning style. Marrs says the machine can typically harvest one acre of hand-picked quality berries per hour. Priced at $219,000, Marrs says the machine is a viable investment for growers with as little as 50 acres. He says the big advantage of owning the machine is that the grower can control his own harvest schedule and not have to rely on the availability of labor or be as concerned about weather conditions.
Blueline also imports the Kokan 500S harvester, a pull-type machine that uses touchless pulsating air jets to gently harvest blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and black currants. The fruit is collected by a patented picking head using only pulsating air to remove the berries. The machine uses air filled collection plates that soften the drop to reduce damage and bruising. Fruit is collected in bins carried on the sides of the machine.
The company has produced tree fruit picking equipment for 15 years and last year introduced the OPH100N, a self-propelled 4-WD machine with all wheel steering. It has hydraulically-controlled platforms that can swing into trees for easy picking. Empty bins enter the front of the machine and exit automatically from the rear with soft-drop technology. Marrs says this machine can also be used for training and thinning branches, pruning and trellis repair, which reduces the need for ladders in the orchard.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Blueline Equipment, 105 N Spokane St., Moxee, Wash. 98936 (ph 509 759-7206; www.bluelinemfg.com).

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2020 - Volume #44, Issue #4