Apple harvest depends on a large seasonal workforce, and decreasing availability of agricultural employees, increasing labor costs, and occupational injuries are creating challenges for apple harvest activities. Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University developed a low-cost apple harvest-assist unit to improve apple harvest efficiency. The unit performed reliably during field tests. Apple bruising incidence, however, was extremely high with the initial design. This was a major problem for this unit, which targeted fresh market apples. This study focused on identifying reasons for apple bruising, and designing and testing a new speed-reduction brush mechanism for distributing the apples into the bin. Field tests demonstrated that 98.50% and 1.50% of 'Fuji' apples harvested by this unit with the speed-reduction brush mechanism mounted were graded as "Extra Fancy" and "Fancy", respectively. The satisfactory experimental results demonstrated the commercialization potential for this low-cost apple harvest-assist unit utilizing the brush speed-reduction mechanism.
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