Economic evaluation of improved mechanical harvesting systems for eastern thornless blackberries

Jayson Kennedy Harper, F. Takeda, D. L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Three blackberry production systems which combine a mechanical harvester employing a new shaking principle with open trellis designs (V-, Y-, and rotatable Y-trellises) were evaluated to determine profit potential. Given a single cultivar planting of 4.7 ha and current fresh-market prices, all three machine harvest systems are profitable. When compared to a hand-harvested I-trellis, fresh-market packouts of from 72 to 132% of total yield would be required for the machine harvesting systems to have equal profitability. The relative profitability of the I-trellis, however, is very sensitive to increases in hand-harvest cost and decreases in fresh-market price. A 20% fall in price would reduce breakeven packout for the mechanical harvester to 27 to 70%. A $0.30/kg increase in hand harvest cost would reduce breakeven packout to 29 to 73%. The machine-harvesting systems are profitable under a greater range of price and yields than the I-trellis. Machine-harvesting systems are profitable at prices as low as $0.48 to $0.67/kg, while hand-harvesting systems need prices of at least $1.42 to $1.55/kg to cover costs. Machine-harvesting systems are profitable at yields as low as 13 to 31% of expected yield for fresh market, while hand-harvesting systems need yields of 44 to 49% to breakeven. Low harvest cost indicates that machine-harvesting systems would also be profitable for processing growers. Hand-harvesting systems are not profitable under current processing prices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-603
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Engineering in Agriculture
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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