An analysis of costs and efficiencies in mechanical caneberry harvesting Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9306t345f

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  • 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 machine. 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 restrictive.
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