SWEDISH EXPERIENCE OF MECHANICAL HARVESTING OF STRAWBERRIES
A harvester for strawberries was developed in Sweden between 1986 and 1990. The harvester is based on experience from similar harvesters in the United States and Canada. The entire plant is cut at ground level and the leaves are separated inside the machine with the help of cross-flow fans. In the second step the clusters becomes singulated when the stems are raised in an air flow and hedgers cut them off. The harvester is constructed to harvest in solid bed plantations. The plantations are established with 40 x 70 cm plant spacings. In the first season the runner plants fill in the empty spaces and establish a solid bed. Very high yields have been recorded in small plots, about twice the yield of the row system. In commercial experiments, 10 tons per ha have been harvested. In some years it has been possible to harvest 80% ripe fruit. The development of gray mold fruit rots affects the quality and quantity of harvested fruit. In dry years it has been possible to start harvest more than ten days after the primary berries are ripe. The harvested product can be used for juice with no further sorting, but processors of quality products prefer the unripe berries to be sorted out. For jam, or similar products, it is necessary to decap the berries. In Sweden we do not have any experience with decapping equipment.
Olander, S. (1993). SWEDISH EXPERIENCE OF MECHANICAL HARVESTING OF STRAWBERRIES. Acta Hortic. 348, 227-233