Effect of Crop Characteristics and Machine Parameters on Berry Losses During Wild Blueberry Harvesting
JAMEEL, MUHAMMAD WAQAS
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Wild blueberry crop characteristics have been changed in last two decades due to improved management practices. Currently, growers are facing increased harvesting losses (15-25%) with existing harvester due to change in crop conditions. Eight wild blueberry fields were selected to find an optimum combination of crop characteristics and machine parameters during harvesting. The harvester was operated at selected levels of ground speed and header revolutions per minute (RPM) in different categories of plant and fruit characteristics. Results indicated the optimum combination of machine and crop parameters was ground speed 1.2 km h-1, header RPM 26, plant height 24 cm, fruit yield 4300 kg ha-1 and plant density 570 plants/m2 to reduce the berry losses during mechanical harvesting. Based on the results, it can be concluded that the suggested harvester settings in conjunction with optimum crop characteristics could reduce berry losses in order to increase farm profitability.