Damage (pitting and bruising) to sweet cherries during packing line operations was evaluated in a 3-year study conducted in California, Washington, and Oregon. A large percentage of cherries sampled before packing developed damage symptoms (28% in 1992 and 35% in 1993 and 1994), suggesting that damage is imparted during growing, harvest, or transport to the packing house. Packing line operations caused an average of 39% pitting and 10% bruising. The greatest damage was imparted by cluster cutters (20% pitting) and shower type hydrocoolers (19% pitting). Results from this study demonstrate that packing line damage can be reduced by slowing fruit speed in cluster cutters, operating cluster cutters at high fruit-throughput rates, and reducing water drop height in shower hydrocoolers.
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