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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mechanical strawberry harvesting Shikaze, George

Abstract

Total strawberry production in both Canada and the United States has been steadily declining for the past decade. This trend can, to a large extent, be attributed to the increasing cost and difficulty of getting this crop manually harvested. This research, therefore, is directed toward development of a mechanical harvesting system for strawberries. During initial development of any new concept, a system analysis should be undertaken to ensure that excessively complicated problems will not arise unexpectedly and to ensure that redundant research is not undertaken. Such an analysis indicated that the development of a once-over harvesting system is more feasible than the development of a selective harvesting system. The analysis also indicated that system development will require input from engineers, fruit growers, fruit processors and horticulturalists. An attempt is made to allocate appropriate areas of investigation and research to each of these groups. Group interactions are also investigated. To successfully develop the proposed system, one essential step is development of a mechanical picking machine. A design, based on the physical and mechanical properties of the strawberry fruit and plant, was used to build a picking -machine model. This model was field tested and evaluated. Limited field tests indicated that some field preparation for mechanical harvesting is essential and that a vacuum fruit pick up device should be considered to assist machine feeding. Tests indicated, however, that the proposed concept can be used to remove berries from the plant with very little fruit damage.

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