- The purpose of this study, initiated early in the development of
mechanical caneberry harvesting, was to provide timely information
for early management decisions concerning mechanical harvesting.
This was accomplished through an economic comparison of mechanical
and hand harvesting of selected types and varieties of caneberries.
Consideration was given to the economic effects of mechanical caneberry
harvesting upon both growers and processors.
Hand harvesting costs of red raspberries, black raspberries,
Thornless Evergreen and Marion blackberries were estimated by use
of grower group interviews in a number of counties in Oregon.
Five types of mechanical harvesters were being operated in
Oregon in 1963. Two of these were operated on a commercial basis
while the other three were experimental. The two commercial
machines were very similar with regard to their appearance, performance,
and operating requirements. Because of a difference
in shaking mechanisms, one was used most successfully on black raspberries
and the other on Marion and Thornless Evergreen blackberries.
Detailed economic engineering studies were conducted on all
operations involving the one type of machine used on black raspberries.
These studies involved the collection of data on speed and
capacity of the machine, crew requirements, recovered yield per
acre by picking, field loss, physical damage to berries and canes,
turn-around times, loading and unloading times, and other pertinent
factors. The study was designed so that relationships developed for
this particular machine on black raspberries would have application
to other machines and other berries. It is believed that a multi-berry
shaking mechanism or interchangeable shaking mechanism will
be developed which will not alter the operating requirements of the
Field studies were made during the 1963 harvest season for
both hand and machine picking operations to determine the relative
picking efficiency of each method. Samples were taken in various
rows throughout machine and hand harvested fields, and the berries
- dropped after each picking and those remaining on the canes after
harvest were estimated.
If picking costs only are considered, costs of mechanically harvesting
black raspberries are $85.63 per acre less than hand picking
costs. When field loss or difference in recovered yield also is taken
into account, this net economic advantage is reduced to only $25 per
acre in favor of mechanical harvesting. It was estimated that from a
total yield of 3,000 pounds per acre, 2,445 pounds would be recovered
by the hand picking method and 2,231 pounds by machine harvesting.
Because the mechanical harvesters are in the early stages of
development, synthetic costs for improved levels of performance
were also analyzed and compared with hand harvesting. It was found
that mechanical harvesting costs could be further reduced by:
increasing acreage harvested during a season, increasing recovered
yield per acre, reducing harvester replacement cost, and lengthening
expected harvester life.
Interviews with processors, although inconclusive, revealed
both advantages and disadvantages of mechanically harvested caneberries
for processing. Processors generally agreed that the principal
advantage of machine picked berries over those that are hand
picked is their somewhat higher soluble solids content.
Although not quantitatively measurable, it appeared that there
were increased processing costs resulting from the additional cleaning
and sorting necessary because of the cull fruit and foreign
material intermixed with the mechanically harvested berries when
they arrived at the plant. In most cases mechanically harvested
berries were utilized in products such as jam, jelly, puree,
flavoring, and dye. For black raspberries these uses were not limiting,
because this particular type of berry is not utilized to any extent
in products requiring the whole berry form. For other berries used
to a larger extent in whole berry form, this limitation would be more