• Tree planter pays dividends

Tree planter pays dividends

  • April 1st, 2010

Yakima Valley Orchards designed and built its own three-row tree planting machine.

Yakima Valley Orchards used to plant trees by hand, with workers digging holes with shovels. Now, it has a three-row planting machine that has cut labor costs in half. But, Travis Allan, operations manager, said the real value [...]

  • 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 [...]

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, [...]

  • Next-generation harvester

Next-generation harvester

  • February 1st, 2010

The harvester has four suction tubes for each worker to use. Fruit travels up the tube to an electronic scanner on the platform. Packable fruit and culls go into separate bins.

After testing prototypes of their apple-harvesting system in Washington State in 2009, Picker Technologies and Oxbo are fine-tuning the [...]

  • Matching trellis to variety and site

Matching trellis to variety and site

  • February 1st, 2010

Rocks are plentiful in this block of Syrah that will be trained to the vertical shoot positioned bilateral cordon.

Bringing out the terroir of Grand Rêve Estate Vineyard has been an involved process, says vineyard manager Ryan Johnson, requiring a number of different training systems in the small parcel on [...]

  • Nursery goes high-tech

Nursery goes high-tech

  • January 15th, 2010

This machine carries five workers on seats through a block of nursery trees to remove suckers. The machine can be used without seats but with different attachments for spraying and weed control.

A nursery in Chile is using the latest equipment to cut the labor involved in growing the branched [...]

  • Swiss company expands to Chile

Swiss company expands to Chile

  • January 15th, 2010

Ditzler uses five machines to harvest sweet dark cherries for processing into yogurts and ice creams. Cherries are harvested day and night.

A Swiss company that produces frozen fruits for yogurts and ice creams is growing some of its cherries in Chile.

Arturo Garcia, general manager of an orchard at Morza, [...]

  • Taking cover

Taking cover

  • January 15th, 2010

Iuar Iraira (foreground), manager of the Fundo Agua Buena orchard (in the center picture), discusses the Voen louvered rain cover with international visitors. The area, south of Temuco, receives more than 70 inches of rainfall annually.

Producing some of the latest maturing cherries in Chile is Leonardo Salas’s competitive advantage—and [...]

  • Growers foresee change

Growers foresee change

  • December 1st, 2009

There are too many new apple varieties, says Polish orchardist Krzysztof Hermanowicz.

New market niches, more emphasis on eating quality, technological advances in the orchard, more regional focus on food, and closer relationships with retailers are changes that a handful of tree fruit growers across the globe envision in the [...]

  • Sorting technology

Sorting technology

  • December 1st, 2009

Tree fruit packers believe that future technology will improve labor efficiencies while improving fruit quality

New technology will touch all areas of tree fruit production in the next decade, from plant breeding to horticulture to packing and storage, all helping to reduce inputs and costs while improving fruit quality, predicts [...]

Good Point – Jim McFerson

  • December 1st, 2009

Predictions and promises are easy enough, as long as they’re vague. On the other hand, few people really remember the predictions, so why not take a shot and even get specific? Here are some of mine, for the next ten years in the Pacific Northwest tree fruit industry.

Some things [...]

Field sorting culls

  • December 1st, 2009

One area of research that John Verbrugge thinks has been overlooked is field sorting of culls.

Verbrugge, new president of the Washington State Horticultural Association, said the industry has made great strides in developing a mechanical harvester that uses robotics, although when it is commercially ready, the harvester will require [...]