• Using soil moisture sensors

Using soil moisture sensors

  • April 1st, 2011

Troy Peters, left, explains the functions of a neutron probe to Washington State University students Prossie Nakawuka, middle, and Romulus Okwany.

Good irrigation water management will increase yields, improve crop quality, conserve water, save energy, decrease fertilizer requirements, and reduce nonpoint source pollution. Using soil moisture measurements is one of [...]

  • Evolution of the Darwin

Evolution of the Darwin

  • March 15th, 2011

While the researchers have pronounced the Darwin string thinner “good to go,” it’s not considered perfect—not by the Canadian company that’s selling it, nor by Pennsylvania State University agricultural engineer Dr. Paul Heinemann. They’re still tweaking it.

“We would like to automate the positioning of the rotating spindle so the [...]

  • Mechanical thinner ready

Mechanical thinner ready

  • March 15th, 2011

Darwin used on perpendicular vee peach orchard in California (Family Tree Farms).

Researchers who studied the Darwin string thinner found it does a good job on peaches, saving growers time and labor and generating high-quality, valuable fruit. So, the next step for peach growers is to adopt the machine and [...]

  • Good Stuff

Good Stuff

  • March 1st, 2011

The Digi-Test is a new instrument for assessing the internal quality of apples. It probes deeper into the fruit than the standard Magness-Taylor firmness tester.

Labor-saving taste tester
The measure of crispness correlates with perceived eating quality.

Washington State University’s apple breeding program is using a new instrument to judge the [...]

  • Spin your weeds away

Spin your weeds away

After years of sitting on a tractor to knock down vineyard weeds with an old grape hoe, only doing about an acre an hour and always causing some vine damage, Dave Kohler finally reached his breaking point. Nearly ten years ago, he’d had enough and was determined to figure [...]

  • Good Stuff

Good Stuff

  • February 1st, 2011

With Come Unglued, there is no need to replace expensive PVC fittings.

Quick PVC pipe fix
Come Unglued is a new tool designed to save time and money when repairing PVC pipes. The tool uses heat to break any PVC cement bond, allowing the user to remove a broken pipe [...]

  • Fruiting walls suit machinery

Fruiting walls suit machinery

  • January 15th, 2011

Fruiting walls of Fuji.

Published January 15, 2011
The Institute of Agriculture at San Michele All’Adige looks for ways that orchardists and vineyardists can farm more efficiently and reduce labor needs. Following an intensive thinning study by the institute, more than 40 mechanical thinners are now in operation in Italian [...]

  • Plethora of platforms

Plethora of platforms

  • January 15th, 2011

Above, left: Called the Trifrut, this three-wheeled, hydraulic transmission tractor has a low profile for orchard canopies and a low center of gravity. Made by FACMA of Italy.

Published January 15, 2011

Self-propelled elevating orchard platforms designed for slopes, harvesting ­platforms with boxes that mechanically empty into bins, platforms run by [...]

  • Platform transforms orchard work

Platform transforms orchard work

  • December 1st, 2010

Tom DeMarree bought this Blosi platform and uses it for many tasks, including installing trellis wire.

Workers crimp stabilizer wires onto trellis wires. The stabilizer wires eliminate the need for additional stakes
or posts.
Two years ago, the Lake Ontario Fruit Program, with a Northeast Risk Management grant and funds [...]

Fruit region is electric vehicle hub

  • December 1st, 2010

The days of 30-cents-per-gallon gasoline are long gone, but new electric vehicles can run on the equivalent of that in areas of the country where power rates are low.

North central Washington State, with its cheap hydropower and emerging wind and solar projects, has become a hub for efforts to [...]

REAP can benefit orchardists

  • December 1st, 2010

Fruit growers have been less likely than other farmers to tap into funds available under the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), but some have found opportunity.

Chip and Karla Bailey of Williamson, New York, obtained grants that helped them buy a wind turbine and an array of solar [...]

  • Vacuum harvester passes bruising tests

Vacuum harvester passes bruising tests

  • December 1st, 2010

Critical components of the DBR harvester are the vacuum tubes (green ones carry apples), the decelerator wheels (circular steel), and the elephant-ear fruit distributor (fan-like device above apples). Here, a full bin is being lowered to the ground during a demonstration at Mike Rasch’s orchard in August.

The vacuum system [...]