MECHANICAL HARVESTING OF OLIVES : PRESENT SITUATION AND PROSPECTS
Years of tests have proved that mechanical harvesting by shaking is the most efficient method. The experience obtained in this field has shown that the highest percentages of harvested products can be attained by means of machines having vibrations with a variable frequency and width, even as regards to direction. By these machines it is possible to harvest up to 70–80% of the product: this percentage, with all other conditions being equal, depends on the stage of ripening.
In areas abounding in gradually ripening varieties, where olives are still harvested directly from the ground, mechanization by means of vacuums, sweepers, and ventilators allows to remarkably increase labour productivity as well as to improve the product quality.
In this framework a rational organization of working teams, as to both labour utilization and the choice of auxiliary equipments (nets, baskets, ground harvesting machines, trucks etc.) takes on greater importance.
In this paper the main experimental results, deriving from olive harvesting tests by means of different machines and working teams, are reported.