Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Blueberry Mechanized Harvesting: Preliminary Results in the Italian Context

Version 1 : Received: 19 April 2021 / Approved: 20 April 2021 / Online: 20 April 2021 (08:25:32 CEST)

How to cite: Brondino, L.; Massaglia, S.; Giuggioli, N.R.; Peano, C. Blueberry Mechanized Harvesting: Preliminary Results in the Italian Context. Preprints 2021, 2021040522 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202104.0522.v1). Brondino, L.; Massaglia, S.; Giuggioli, N.R.; Peano, C. Blueberry Mechanized Harvesting: Preliminary Results in the Italian Context. Preprints 2021, 2021040522 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202104.0522.v1).

Abstract

The object of this work is to report some preliminary results on the mechanical harvesting of blueberry fruits of cv. Cargo® in the Piedmont region, one of the most productive areas of Italy that is specialized for fresh blueberry production. The automatization of harvesting operations could represent a competitive advantage for the investigated area’s blueberries supply chain, but could act as a limitation to maintaining the quality of fresh berries. A prototype machine and a commercial harvester (Easy Harvester®) were compared to manual picking, considering harvest efficiency (share of loss), labor productivity and harvesting cost. In the indicated context, the cost of labor exceeds 2.00 euros per kg of sellable product. The use of the prototype allowed a 37% re-duction of this cost, and the use of the Easy Harvester® allowed a reduction of about two thirds. It should be emphasized that these positive performances do not consider two other aspects: the re-duction in the marketable volume (attributable to losses in the harvest and post-harvest phase), and the reduction in the net sale price by 0.30 euros due to the sorting/selection costs in the ware-house. In this study, we highlight how the transition to mechanical harvesting requires the trans-formation of several farming and warehouse operations, such as new crop varieties, new field configurations, and new packaging processes. However, a possible technical improvement of the Easy Harvester® machine could represent an opportunity for Italian companies in the planning of the production and marketing of berries, involving all actors of the supply chain. Further research on the use of mechanization in the sector must still be continued and supported.

Subject Areas

Vaccinum corymbosum; innovation; harvest; production; cost; prototype

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