Delicate Machine Harvesters Enter Fresh Blueberry Market


[Music] Hello everyone, I want to tell you a story about Harvard steam blueberries. Normally, fresh blueberries you buy in the supermarket are harvested by hand. However, with the labor cost increasing, growers want to harvest blueberries by machine. The current machine harvesters are not made for the fresh blueberry market because lots of blueberries will be bruised. So, the research was needed to figure out how to reduce the internal bruising damage. The most damage is caused by machine is from the catch system. So, when the berries fall from high distance, they will be damaged. The trick is to reduce the damage by either designing a machine where everywhere berries touch are soft or you can reduce the drop height.

We worked with USDA and the university partners to test a range of materials and also different designs of the catch system. During the process, we used different sensors to measure the impact throughout the contact points. We worked with the manufacturers, then they made changes in the machine design. Eventually, the soft catch system was commercialized. It is stirred to be used by the blueberry industry. We are really proud of our work. By the adoption of this new harvester technology, growers are able to reduce their labor cost by 75%. With the new machine, it has a tremendous upside for the future of the fresh blueberry industry in Oregon and beyond. [Music]

Normally fresh blueberries purchased in the supermarket are harvested by hand. However, with labor shortages and costs increasing there are benefits to machine harvested berries. Extension researchers in collaboration with industry partners to develop a machine to harvest unbruised berries for the fresh blueberry market, reducing labor costs by 75%.

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