Economic analysis of a low-cost apple harvest-assist unit

Zhao Zhang, Paul H. Heinemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


A low-cost apple (Malus domestica) harvest-assist unit was recently developed to assist employees with fresh apple harvesting. This study reports on the economic analysis of this apple harvest-assist unit. Annual costs of the harvest-assist unit were calculated, including ownership and operational cost. Annual cost savings by increasing apple harvest efficiency, decreasing occupational injuries, improving work productivity in training, pruning, and thinning, and eliminating expenditures on purchasing ladders were calculated. When the annual costs are smaller than annual savings, the unit benefits apple orchard owners positively. Economic analysis results using orchard yields ranging from 25 to 45 Mg·ha-1 demonstrated that when the apple orchard area was larger than 7.6 ha, the unit always benefited orchard owners positively; when the orchard area was smaller than 4.2 ha, the unit always benefited orchard owners negatively. For large orchards, more than one unit was required to satisfy the operational needs. Of the top four U.S. apple production states, Washington, New York, and Michigan, benefitted from purchasing four units, three units, and two units, respectively, per typical farm. However, an average-sized orchard in Pennsylvania, would not benefit, due to small orchard size and low yield. A net present value (NPV) analysis was determined using data from Washington State, which yielded a return on the 8-year investment in the machinery of $888.44.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-247
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Horticulture


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