Good Fruit Grower

September 2016

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30 SEPTEMBER 2016 Good Fruit Grower Paul Wafl er Walter Wafl er Metal hoops, four on each side, extend just beyond the worker platforms to hold inverted traffi c cones. The cones can be used to hold gear during nonharvest tasks or, during harvest, to hold culls and bruised fruit. "We pay our workers the same rate for quality fruit and culls," Walter Wafl er said. "That way they won't game the system, putting culls in the quality bins. By not throwing them on the ground, they increase revenue." When the cones fi ll, they are emptied into a single wooden or plastic bin in the middle of the platform. Workers fi ll the two bins below and above the cull bin with quality fruit. When the bins are ready to be replaced, a trac- tor-hitched bin trailer, another Wafl er innovation, raises fi ve empty bins off the ground and places them on an elevated trailing rack behind the platform. The platform rack with the full bins tips downward, allowing those bins to exit to the ground under the stor- age trailer. The empty bins on the elevated rack then load onto the platform rack and are raised to the pick position. One bin loader can serve up to four platforms at a time, and platform workers keep picking throughout the bin exchange. The self-propelled platform can be controlled from seven positions — a control panel located at the rear as well from six posts, three on each side, equipped with toggles for steering and speed adjustments. A $3,000 video-monitoring system tracks the platform progress, location, yields and worker performance, allowing for pickers to review their efforts and improve effi ciency (See "The tech advantage" on Page 32). PLAY See the Wa�ler Farms machine at work during thinning at IFTA New York study tour daVe weinsToCK/Good FruiT Grower A two-row hedger, designed and built by Paul and Walter Wafl er to run down their 7-foot rows between their tall spindle tipped trees, is able to hedge two rows at a time. The machine cuts labor time and costs in half for this task. TJ Mullinax/Good FruiT Grower Paul Wafl er, right, adjusts the speed on a Huron Fruit Systems mechanical platform as crews thin tree rows at Wafl er Farms. Continued on Page 34

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