Night shift: Harvesting apples at night

A shift from ladders to illuminated platforms allows pickers to work day or night.

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Hand-held thinning tool

  • April 1st, 2010

Much of the research in orchard innovation involves automation and robotics, but not every orchard can accommodate technology like mechanized harvesters and mechanical thinners. That’s why a Washington State University engineer is also looking for technology that could augment hand labor.

Dr. Qin Zhang, a biological systems engineer for WSU, [...]

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  • April 1st, 2010

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  • Retrofitting an apple packing line

Retrofitting an apple packing line

  • April 1st, 2010

A Yakima, Washington, grower-packer operation wanted to upgrade its optical sorting capability but didn’t want to make expensive changes to the entire line. By retrofitting the outdated optics with a new system, color and size grade adjustments can now be made quickly with a few computer keystrokes.

Mike Saunders, Apple [...]

  • Chemical thinners are inconsistent

Chemical thinners are inconsistent

  • April 1st, 2010

Penn State’s Dr. Jim Schupp says that the inconsistent results with chemical thinners led to researcher interest in mechanical thinners.

After a decade of searching for effective chemical blossom thinners for Pacific Northwest stone fruit growers, researchers are still empty-handed.

The Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission has evaluated chemical thinners for [...]

Good Stuff

  • April 1st, 2010

Dream tractor?
The Mach 4 is an articulated reversible quad-track vehicle for specialized farming. Launched in Italy in 2008 as a “dream tractor,” it is now one of the leading models that Antonio Carraro produces. It is a universal vehicle designed to handle extreme working conditions on any kind [...]

  • Reduce compaction

Reduce compaction

  • April 1st, 2010

Juice grape growers in Washington State have found a way to aerate the soil, relieve soil compaction, and reduce farming costs.

An aerator implement that uses metal fingers to loosen the soil is finding favor in the grape industry. Forage and grain crop farmers have found the implement is useful in [...]

  • Irrigation options

Irrigation options

  • April 1st, 2010

Plantings at Yakima Valley Orchards are irrigated with drip. Travis Allan checks on a Honeycrisp block planted in 2007 where overhead sprinklers are being installed for frost protection.

An increasing number of orchardists are using drip irrigation systems to get their new orchard blocks off to a good start.

Tom Auvil, [...]

  • Apples from the prairie

Apples from the prairie

  • April 1st, 2010

Autumn Delight (right photo) and Misty Rose.

Three apple cultivars released by the University of Saskatchewan fruit breeding program are being recommended for commercial production in that prairie province this year, according to fruit breeder Dr. Bob Bors. They are Autumn Delight, Prairie Sensation, and Misty Rose.

Autumn Delight (top photo [...]

  • Fruit from the Prairie

Fruit from the Prairie

  • April 1st, 2010

The five members of the Romance series of sour cherries, released in 2003, surround Carmine Jewel, which was released in 1999. All are very dark and sweeter than the tart cherries produced in the United States.

Fruit production doesn’t get much attention at Canada’s 52° north latitude, but plant breeders [...]

  • The lowdown on drip

The lowdown on drip

  • April 1st, 2010

Drip irrigation systems are designed to deliver water precisely and uniformly to the crop roots and often results in water savings. Water is applied in low volumes at frequent intervals.

There are two types of drip systems: a rigid drip tube that can be used as a permanent system and [...]

  • Australia testing two new pears

Australia testing two new pears

  • April 1st, 2010

Garry Langford says testers will be licensed to grow trees for five years to produce enough pears for sampling.

Two new pear varieties from Australia are being propagated for testing in the United States.

One is an early-season blushed yellow pear that is ready to eat off the tree; the other [...]

  • Mechanical thinning works

Mechanical thinning works

  • April 1st, 2010

The mechanical string thinner knocked off 15 percent or more dormant buds in this Santina block. Right: The Darwin string thinner.

Soft fruit growers in the United States are catching on to what seems to have been a well-kept secret in Germany. With three years of data by U.S. researchers [...]