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Mechanical harvesting of olives—An operations study

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Harvesting has become the bottleneck of the olive oil industry, and the shortage of agricultural workers is the main motivation behind the search for mechanical solutions. The efficiency of three mechanical olive-harvesting systems and methods was measured in the course of two seasons, and their advantages and disadvantages were evaluated. None of the trunk shakers and their associated harvesting methods was sufficiently efficient to enable the number of people needed to strike the branches with sticks to be reduced. Vine harvesters of the type used for harvesting olives were found to leave significant quantities of olives on the trees.A two-stage harvesting method was also tested and found to be feasible. It is based on a gentle harvest of mature fruits early in the season, followed by a complementary strip-harvest at a later stage of maturity. The results do not seem to support the economic viability of this harvesting method for cv. ‘Barnea’, but it may be suitable for cv. ‘Frantoio’, which is known as a hard-to-harvest variety.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center ; 2: Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center ; 3: Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Research Organization ; 4: Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization Gilat Research Center ; 5: Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center


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1. Dag, A., Avidan, B., Birger, R., Lavee, S. 2006. High-density orchards in Israel. Proceeding of the 2nd Int. Seminar, Olivebioteq. Marsala, Italy, pp. 31-36.
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5. Lavee, S., Wonder, M. 1991. Factors affecting the nature of oil accumulation in fruit of olive (Olea europaea L.) cultivars. J. Hortic. Sci. 66: 583-591.
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7. Tombesi, A., Boco, M., Pilli, M., Farinelli, D. 2002. Influence of canopy density on efficiency of trunk shaker on olive mechanical harvesting. Acta Hortic. 2002: 291-294.
8. Vieri, M. 2002. Olive picking tests with shaker module and harvesting umbrella, mounted on a rotating platform excavator. Adv. Hortic. Sci. 16: 240-245.

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