Adopting New Packing Technology

On The Right Track

Fruit quality begins to develop in the orchard, but all your efforts will go for naught if you don’t have the same quality standards in the packinghouse. If you’re not taking every possible step to sort and package your fruit in the proper manner, your bottom line is bound to suffer. This is true whether you run a large packinghouse, send your fruit to a packer, or simply pass the fruit through a small storage shed between the orchard and the market.

In order for all of this to be possible, growers need to be on the same page with equipment manufacturers and suppliers. Manufacturers need to be aware of growers’ needs when it comes to postharvest technology, while growers need to inform their suppliers how they plan to use this technology.

Supply Side

Greefa, based in the Netherlands, has been working closely with several large growing operations in the U.S. to learn more about new varieties and to constantly fine-tune their quality systems to meet the needs of these new varieties, and the growers who plant them. The company recently installed new sorting machinery for two major Washington-based fruit packers: Olympic Fruit Co. and Evans Fruit. These new sorters were designed with three different elements in mind: external quality detection, internal quality detection, and firmness detection.

“This technology helps our customers take the next step in offering consumers a perfect product, and at the same time save money on personnel and work more efficiently,” says Monique Doornebal of Greefa. “Our customers are looking for systems that can detect internal browning and guarantee quality control.”

The need for efficient sizing is also something that more manufacturers are noticing. “Fruit growers are always in search of a more gentle way to size their product,” notes James Kerian of Kerian Machines in Grafton, ND. However, while it is usually not too difficult to find sizers with the necessary capacity, finding accurate equipment is a little more challenging, says Kerian. “Gentle handling, in my experience, is always the most pressing concern for fruit growers.”

Kerian Sizers have been used to sort extremely delicate fruits including peaches and apples. Specialized rollers and the continuous increasing of the distance between the rollers minimizes the risk of pinching or bruising. In recent years, the company has also begun to integrate padded takeaway conveyors with the Kerian Sizer, and this has become a popular system for sorting fresh round tomatoes.

Grower Expectations

So, are these new technological developments meeting the needs of the growers who use them? For the most part, the answer is yes. According to Jay Fulbright of Dovex Fruit in Wenatchee, WA, defect sorting is a critical need for helping reduce labor costs. While the supplier industry is doing a good job, there is room for improvement, notes Fulbright. “We need to have defect sorting that will have an allowable tolerance to be accepted by the growers,” he says. “When this does not happen, it creates a problem for the grower, as well as the customer.”

Dovex is also taking a proactive approach to incorporating new technology. “The most important step we have taken is installing a bin sanitation system which removes spore loads from our bins before sending back out into the field,” says Fulbright. “We are still evaluating non-destructive pressure testing and grade defect sorting, and we await further improvements.”

Brent Smittcamp, president of Wawona Packing, a stone fruit grower in Cutler, CA, says the supplier industry is doing a much better job in providing new technology. “From packingline equipment, tote handling systems, and inventory control to packaging material, it’s paramount to stay proactive and research various technologies to evaluate their efficiencies and effectiveness,” says Smittcamp.

“We are always looking for new and innovative technology to increase both quality and efficiency,” says Smittcamp. “Due to adverse labor conditions, we are utilizing more automatic distribution in order to streamline production costs.” New technologies that Wawona Packing has recently incorporated include:

• Automatic tote de-stackers and stackers
• Multiple ozone generators
• Compact sizer with automatic distribution
• Specially designed micro-bubble packaging material for better handling of packed fruit
• A bar code system for inventory management.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fruits Stories
field shot
Fruits
April 28, 2016
USDA Establishes New Partnership To Link Underserved Growers To Farm Service Agency Programs
Minority, women, new and beginning, military, veteran, and urban producers to receive training and information on agency services. Read More
Vineyard Labor Downsized GP
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
The Truth About Most Farmworkers [Opinion]
Just ask any grower who has placed a help wanted ad. Read More
Jones Potato Farm field in Parrish, FL
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural Environmental Leaders
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
(Photo credit: USDA)
Fruits
April 27, 2016
It’s Time To Rethink Grade Standards For Produce
Food waste is largely dictated by limiting produce standards. Read More
red blotch featured image
Crop Protection
April 27, 2016
Vector Transmitting Red Blotch Virus Found
Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis) have found the vector that seems to be spreading grapevine red blotch, a Read More
tomatoes and strawberries
Berries
April 27, 2016
New Herbicide For Tomatoes, Strawberries
The product from Helm Agro US is registered to control more than 100 broadleaf, grass, and sedge species. Read More
The workers at Hollabaugh Bros., Inc. Fruit Farms & Market in Biglerville, PA take a well-deserved break. (Photo credit: Bruce Hollabaugh)
Fruits
April 27, 2016
Common Sense On Immigration [Opinion: One Grower’s Take]
We need a guest worker program if we’re going to feed America and ensure our national security. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Uta…
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To…
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
USDA Establishes New Partnership To Link…
Minority, women, new and beginning, military, veteran, and urban producers to receive training and information on agency services. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural …
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
It’s Time To Rethink Grade Standards For…
Food waste is largely dictated by limiting produce standards. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
Common Sense On Immigration [Opinion: On…
We need a guest worker program if we’re going to feed America and ensure our national security. Read More
Citrus
April 26, 2016
Deception Is A Dish Best Never Served [O…
Recent mainstream media kerfuffle over local food legitimacy stirs up the need for more clearly defined terms, better awareness among consumers. Read More
Fruits
April 26, 2016
New Study Finds Traditional Migrant Work…
Ball State University research shows many of the agricultural migrant workers of the past just aren’t migrating any more. Read More
Citrus
April 26, 2016
Farm Bureau Says Labor Visa Backlogs Thr…
Agency calls for swifter processing of paperwork so growers' requests for crews can be met. Read More
Fruits
April 25, 2016
Avocados Emerging As Attractive Alternat…
Researchers vetting viability of commercial production in the Indian River region. Read More
Fertilizer
April 25, 2016
FDA Extends Comment Period On Using Raw …
The assessment will be designed to evaluate the risk that the use of raw manure as fertilizer on produce crops may pose for consumer health.   Read More
Cucurbits
April 23, 2016
Award-Winning Interactive Music Video Pr…
Funded by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, the video was produced in support of the rock and roll nutrition show, Jump With Jill. Read More
Citrus
April 22, 2016
Happy Trails To A Great Researcher, Bett…
Dr. Brian Boman worked with growers to examine their nutrient and water use and how practices could be modified to not only lessen environmental impacts, but also increase growers’ profitability. Read More
Food Safety
April 21, 2016
It’s Your Duty To Challenge The &#…
The Environmental Working Group is at it again, making it critical for growers to keep customers informed about production practices and the safety of produce. Read More
Citrus
April 20, 2016
USDA Offers $4 Million For Pest Manageme…
Funding to be used to increase crop protection practices, tackle high-priority pests. Read More
Crop Protection
April 20, 2016
A Cool, Wet Spring Means Increased Pest …
Growers in the East seeing increasing pressure from green fruitworm and rosy apple aphid, need to start scouting for black stem borer. Read More
Fruits
April 19, 2016
Researchers Say It’s Too Soon To React T…
Although there is some damage to flower buds, experts suggest thinning decisions should be made once the crop is set. Read More
Farm Management
April 19, 2016
Food Safety Training Grants Available
USDA announces $4.7 million available in grants for food safety training, outreach, and technical assistance. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]