A progress report: Redesigning pear trees for mechanical harvesting
Mechanical harvesting of Bartlett pears was attempted in 1960 using a block of sixty-year-old trees, designed specifically for hand harvesting, at the George and Walter Brown pear ranch, Santa Clara County. The lower limbs were so near to the ground that a catching frame could not be driven beneath the trees and the fruit had to be dropped onto straw in the initial trials. After a month in cold storage the fruits were peeled and then graded for mechanical damage, including bruising (brown spotting). An average of 48% of the fruit was damaged and unacceptable for processing. Brown spot bruising accounted for 32% of the damage. This damage was presumed to be from fruits hitting twigs, branches and other fruit while falling.