Good Fruit Grower

February 15, 2017

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26 FEBRUARY 15, 2017 GOOD FRUIT GROWER W ashington growers founded the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission in 1969 with a goal of developing an automated harvester, but the vision and engineering tech- nologies necessary for such an endeavor never quite kept pace with the needs of the tree fruit industry. Until now, perhaps. The robotic harvester under development by Abundant Robotics (see "The long and tricky path to automated picking" in the November 2016 issue of Good Fruit Grower) is able to remove apples (and pears) quickly without inflicting damage in the process. The machine is being programmed to recognize fruit size and color and to "see" fruit and pick it as the machine moves down the row. The high potential for success means it may be time to contemplate the current and future opportunities to fur- ther automate the apple and pear industries and to begin identifying synergistic technologies or developments — such as mechanical pruning, 10-foot minimum width drive rows, the handling properties of specific varieties and the growth habits of trees. Horticultural challenges For best results with the current version of the tech- nology, there should be nothing between the "end effec- tor" and the fruit; posts, tree limbs, trunks and wires all can be barriers to reach the fruit. In addition, long limbs can be sucked into the end effector, bruising and cutting the fruit that subsequently enters and passes alongside GOOD TO KNOW Are you ready for automated harvests? What growers need to know to prepare for implementing robotic harvest technology by Tom Auvil Robots in the orchard Posts, branches, trunks and wires can all be barriers for the "end effector" of a robotic harvester from reaching the fruit. Long limbs, which could be sucked into the harvester, can also cause problems. TJ MULLINAX PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/GOOD FRUIT GROWER Farm Orchard Vineyard Berry Trellising Kiln Dried Pressure Treated Round Wood Posts and Rails. Preferred supplier for BC Ministries & Parks Canada. Guaranteed Life Expectancy of 25 years if not damaged or altered before or af ter installation. Contact Bill Everitt TF 877.797.7678 Orchard-Rite ® W I N D M A C H I N E S A L E S : C h a d H y m e l - S a l e s 5 5 9 - 9 0 9 - 0 0 0 8 E r i k N e l s o n - S a l e s 5 5 9 - 7 3 1 - 9 7 0 8 J e f f T h o r n i n g - S a l e s 5 5 9 - 9 7 2 - 9 9 3 7 R a n d y Q u e n z e r - S a l e s 5 5 9 - 8 0 5 - 8 2 5 4 W I N D M A C H I N E S E R V I C E : Justin Landers - 559-564-3114 Frost Protection Wind Machines P ur e. Po werful. Perf or ma n c e. Are you ready for winter heating? Call today to schedule your Wind Machine Service.

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