Mechanical harvest: a realistic challenge for the processed apricot market?
ILLIAD is a French national project in which food-chain sustainability is being evaluated on four products (wheat, rice, peach and apricot). For apricot, two difficulties for French production have been identified: i) the high cost of manpower in this culture and ii) fruit processors' dependence on surplus fruits from fresh consumption. This leads to very high variability in supply, price and quality from year to year. In this context, one solution might be dedicated orchards for processing industries. At first, cultivars well adapted to processing and with a low demand for inputs were screened for their behavior in mechanical harvest. Mechanical harvest was carried out using tree shaking (at 40 cm from the ground) and collection on a fabric screen. Results obtained over 2 years on more than 15 cultivars and in two production areas are presented. The low mechanical damage observed just after harvesting or after 7 days of storage for a few cultivars and the possibility of optimizing shaking parameters according to agronomic and physiologic criteria (fruit falling, maturity heterogeneity, etc.) confirm the suitability of mechanical harvesting and the opportunity to create dedicated orchards.
Gouble, B., Reling, P., Renard, C.M.G.C., Broquaire, J.M., Chamet, C. and Audergon, J.M. (2018). Mechanical harvest: a realistic challenge for the processed apricot market?. Acta Hortic. 1214, 53-58
quality, grading classes, dedicated orchard