School of Economic Sciences

Agribusiness Management

Asparagus Research Selective Harvester - 2003

by Trent Ball*

Washington State University conducted a 2-week trial on a selective machine harvester during the asparagus harvest season. The purpose of the trial was to evaluate the machine harvester for potential application in Washington asparagus fields. Initial results suggest the machine has potential as a commercial harvester. The selective harvester is a prototype machine developed almost 20 years ago. Prior to running the trials, some of the machines electronics and pneumatic cylinders were updated. Although the machine has the capabilities to harvest three rows, for the purpose of the study only one header was used.

The selective harvester cut daily approximately 1-acre of asparagus during the trial. Random 50-foot plots were set up in the field prior to the machine cutting to identify the number of harvestable spears. After harvesting, the plots were assessed for damage, dropped spears, and harvested product; overall pounds harvested for the 1-acre trials was also collected. Preliminary results indicate the machine did minimal field damage and harvested 55-60% of the weight harvested by a hand crew. The harvester generated as high as 77% useable number one spears based on fresh market standards.

Front view of Selective Harvester Side view of Selective Harvester Rear view of the Selective Harvester

Ray Folwell in the asparagus fieldCloseup of Selective Harvester picking asparagus in the field 

*Trent Ball is an Associate in Research, working with Dr. Ray Folwell, on the asparagus project. He recently, May 2003, did trials in the Columbia Basin, Washington to study the Selective Machine Harvester and its economic affects on the asparagus industry.

This plugin is to a short film showing the mechanical grader machine in action. (This is a mpg (movie) file that is 5.58 MB). Double click on the picture below to start the film clip.

Full view of Selective Harvester  

The pictures to the left and the two pictures below are linked to larger images. Click on the image and the larger image will pop up in a separate window.

Front view of Selective Harvester

Heading using the h3 tag

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