Mechanised harvest of small wild-fruits.

E. Triquart, T. Rocksch

Humboldt-University of Berlin,

Institute for Horticultural Sciences, Section of Horticultural Engineering

Lentzeallee 55-57, D-14195 Berlin

Due to their high fruit content, wild-fruits are used in the production of foodstuffs, cosmetics and phyto-pharmaceuticals.

The mechanised harvest of wild-fruits has however, proved itself to be problematic, the low fruit mass in combination with the force required to remove the fruit has led to an impasse in berry harvesting technology. Added to this, the morphology of the fruit and its protective coverings serve to complicate the harvesting further. Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) was selected as the basis for development of technological and technical processes for a mechanical harvest using the cut harvest procedure. In order to review the harvest suitability and the optimal harvest times of different species, fruit specific parameters such as single fruit mass, ease of detachment, volume and content were defined.

To remove the fruit from the stalks, a high acceleration up to 5000 m/s2 is required. A wild-fruit harvesting machine was developed at the Humboldt-University Berlin with a frequency of 30 Hz at amplitude of 16 mm with which a 95% fruit removal rate is achievable. Total losses reach between 1-10%. With yields of 6 t/ha per harvest year a harvest of over 800 kg/h was achieved from Hippophae rhamnoides. An economic harvesting of Rosa villosa is also deemed possible.

The high genetic variability of wild-fruits also leads to differential harvest results within a species. Before the cultivation of a new selection an evaluation of the harvest characteristics is necessary. During the harvesting of wild-fruits from field hedges the achievement potential of the harvesting machine does not reach its full capacity due to the heterogeneous composition of the plant material.

The cut harvest procedure is only useful if the bushes possess high regeneration abilities and then only with cutting of either ‘fruit branches’ or ‘total cut’ that are capable of justifiable yields.