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

BerriesReal Estate Firm, Wish Farms Strike Large Land Deal
October 1, 2014
$13.8 million transaction includes more than 800 acres acquired from longtime Central Florida produce operation. Read More
FruitsOrganic And Local Food Economies Receive More Than $52 Million In USDA Grants
October 1, 2014
Most of the grants were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
BerriesPractice Persistence When Battling Botrytis In Blueberries
September 30, 2014
Cognizance of resistance is key to managing formidable fungus. Read More
CitrusFarming Is Quite The Scary Prospect For Some [Opinion]
September 30, 2014
Florida Grower managing editor Paul Rusnak says economic realities might frighten off future leaders from noble professions. Read More
FruitsNew Suppress Herbicide Gets Green Light From EPA
September 30, 2014
Approval gives organic growers new weed management tool. Read More
BerriesNew Fill-By-Weight Clamshell Filler For Blueberries
September 30, 2014
Lakewood Process Machinery's equipment offers a simplified user interface, minimized drop heights, a new dribble-gate system designed for an increased level of accuracy. Read More
BerriesDrought Could Impact Spring California Strawberry Crop
September 29, 2014
Ventura County expects reduction of acres planted as surface water availability takes a hit. Read More

The Latest

FruitsOrganic And Local Food Economies Receive More Than $52 …
October 1, 2014
Most of the grants were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
CitrusFarming Is Quite The Scary Prospect For Some [Opinion]
September 30, 2014
Florida Grower managing editor Paul Rusnak says economic realities might frighten off future leaders from noble professions. Read More
FruitsNew Suppress Herbicide Gets Green Light From EPA
September 30, 2014
Approval gives organic growers new weed management tool. Read More
CitrusFlorida Announces Its 2014 Woman Of The Year In Agricul…
September 29, 2014
Longtime award recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to the state’s farming sector. Read More
FruitsNational Security May Depend On A Healthy Diet [Opinion…
September 29, 2014
Your bottom line as well as the future of our country will depend on promoting healthy eating to the next generation. Read More
CitrusFlorida Produce Industry Embracing Progress, Confrontin…
September 29, 2014
Production pressures and politics hot topics at FFVA’s 71st Annual Convention. Read More
CitrusFlorida Farmers Finding Ways To Cultivate An Environmen…
September 26, 2014
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam salutes producers putting their best management practices forward. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Partner Wisely To Stay Afloat Amid WOTUS…
September 26, 2014
According to Florida Grower editor Frank Giles, the Clean Water Act is muddying waters for farmers. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Takes Steps To Help Farmers Manage Risk
September 25, 2014
New programs offers farmers protection against price drops and additional unforeseen risks. Read More
CitrusNational Farmers Union Submits Comments On Clean Water …
September 23, 2014
Organization urges other industry groups to submit constructive comments. Read More
CitrusLuke Bryan Pays It Forward For Farming
September 23, 2014
Country superstar honors agriculture with his Farm Tour. Read More
FruitsFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Seeks Fresh A…
September 17, 2014
New partnership bolsters Fresh From Florida program. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement Nation…
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
FruitsDeadline Nearing For Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistanc…
September 15, 2014
Fruit growers who suffered losses due to frost or freeze in 2012 could be eligible for assistance through USDA’S Farm Service Agency. Read More
Fruits5 Mistakes You May Be Making With Your Orchard’s …
September 15, 2014
These deadly sins may be hurting your customers’ experience — and costing you money. Read More
FruitsSuccess And The Not-Top-100 Grower [Opinion]
September 15, 2014
Innovation isn't only happening at the top. Some of the most interesting ideas in the fruit industry are being executed by small growers. Read More
FruitsAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top 100 …
September 13, 2014
The nations’s largest growers reflect how technology, innovations, and promotion help make their businesses run more efficiently. Read More
FruitsSolve This Grower’s New Planting Problem
September 12, 2014
American Fruit Grower’s advice forum focuses on solving your problems and issues that arise in business and the growing season. Read More