Thanks to increasing labor costs, more and more fruit and vegetable growers are looking to rely on mechanical aid when it comes to harvest and improving efficiencies.


“A good example is in the Washington state apple industry growers are using platforms now where there are teams of workers could ride on the platform between orchard rows and move up and down that we don't have to lug around ladders it's safer it's faster when you're managing your orchids that's why you got to think a little bit different about compensation.”


ERS’ Skyler Simnitt  acknowledged that mechanization is easier to adapt with some fruit and vegetable crops that with others.  Processed produce in many ways lends itself to machine harvesting.


“The processing tomato market, which since the 1960s has been virtually harvested just by machine.  You’ve got tart cherries in Michigan.  And berries for the processing markets blueberries, raspberries, things like that are mostly machine harvested.  Apples too, that are things that are for the processed market can be machine harvested with tree shakers and things like that," Simnitt said.  "But when it comes to plucking fresh fruit or gently handling of items like vegetables that are easily damaged those technologies are a lot harder to develop, and there's a lot of variables too when it comes to production agriculture in the field which can make it hard to have a machine that's going to always work reliably and efficiently.”


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