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

CitrusUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
The funds will go toward helping growers implement conservation practices to improve honey bee health. Read More
FruitsHuge California Drought Meeting Planned
October 29, 2014
State, federal officials to meet as forecasts for the coming year look bleak. Read More
FruitsValent U.S.A., MGK Enter Into Marketing Agreement
October 28, 2014
Valent U.S.A. to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products beginning in April 2015. Read More
FruitsMichigan State Offers Online Database Of Tree Fruit Diseases, Insects
October 28, 2014
Search engine helps growers identify several issues in the orchard. Read More
Stone FruitStudy Examines How To Keep Sweet Cherries Fresh
October 28, 2014
Canadian researcher says cooling of sweet cherries is key to delivering a quality product. Read More
CitrusModern Agriculture Is A True Centerpiece Of Thanksgiving [Opinion]
October 27, 2014
FFAA's Mary Hartney says take time during this holiday season to give thanks where thanks is due. Read More
CitrusNOAA’s Winter Weather Outlook Runs Hot And Cold
October 27, 2014
Repeat of last year’s extreme cold and snow events east of the Rockies unlikely. Read More

The Latest

FruitsSexual Evolution May Bear More Fruit In The Orchard
October 30, 2014
Scientists take a closer look at genes and find new plant breeding possibilities. Read More
Apples & PearsWashington Apples To Restart Shipments To China
October 29, 2014
Agreement reached between U.S. and Chinese governments to reinstate market access after two-year absence. Read More
EquipmentEnter To Win A Kubota At The Washington State Horticult…
October 29, 2014
Attendees have a chance to take home a new utility vehicle courtesy of Wilbur-Ellis and Western Fruit Grower. Read More
CitrusUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
The funds will go toward helping growers implement conservation practices to improve honey bee health. Read More
FruitsHuge California Drought Meeting Planned
October 29, 2014
State, federal officials to meet as forecasts for the coming year look bleak. Read More
FruitsValent U.S.A., MGK Enter Into Marketing Agreement
October 28, 2014
Valent U.S.A. to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products beginning in April 2015. Read More
FruitsMichigan State Offers Online Database Of Tree Fruit Dis…
October 28, 2014
Search engine helps growers identify several issues in the orchard. Read More
CitrusModern Agriculture Is A True Centerpiece Of Thanksgivin…
October 27, 2014
FFAA's Mary Hartney says take time during this holiday season to give thanks where thanks is due. Read More
CitrusNOAA’s Winter Weather Outlook Runs Hot And Cold
October 27, 2014
Repeat of last year’s extreme cold and snow events east of the Rockies unlikely. Read More
FruitsBig Bucks Given To Grow Better Fruit Crops
October 27, 2014
Two projects to be focus of five-year, $10 million grant from USDA. Read More
Farm ManagementBill Gates Uploading Lots Of Florida Farmland
October 22, 2014
Recent acquisition for the Microsoft icon involves more than 4,500 acres for nearly $28 million. Read More
FruitsAnnual Santa Maria Strawberry Meeting Approaching
October 22, 2014
The meeting will focus on IPM practices, weed management, updates on fumigation, and more. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million To Stimulate Research And Devel…
October 22, 2014
The grants will provide resources to help small operations create breakthroughs, says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read More
CitrusEPA Launches Program To Reduce Pesticide Drift
October 22, 2014
The voluntary star-rating program aims to protect people, wildlife and the environment. Read More
CitrusMcCrometer Introduces New Ag Management Mobile App
October 22, 2014
The app displays data on weather, ET, soil moisture, water flow, and more. Read More
CitrusAgriculture, Interior Departments Partner To Measure Co…
October 22, 2014
Goal is to provide science-based information for watershed wellness. Read More
CitrusIt’s Time For Young Farming Leaders To Engage [Op…
October 21, 2014
Florida Grower editor Frank Giles says there are capable and talented youths in the ag field ready to step up and take the reins. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches New Award To Recognize Produ…
October 21, 2014
Award recognizes innovation that enhances the role of produce in creating better lives. Read More