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Coral Ortiz, Antonio Torregrosa, Enrique Ortí, and Sebastià Balasch

Thinning is the process of removing some flowers or fruit to increase fruit size at harvest. In the Valencia region of Spain, the thinning operation for citrus fruit (Citreae) is performed for some mandarin varieties. This is always performed manually; however, this method is very expensive. The goal of this research study was to assess the mechanical thinning of mandarin (Citrus reticulata) using a hand-held branch shaker. Different thinning treatments were conducted over a 3-year period. The gasoline-powered branch shaker was capable of detaching fruit four- to five-times faster than manual thinning. Final fruit size was significantly higher using manual and mechanical thinning compared with a no thinning treatment. Similar final fruit size was obtained with manual and mechanical thinning. However, no significant differences were found in final fruit yield by weight among no thinning, mechanical thinning, and manual thinning treatments. The use of a branch shaker could be recommended for thinning operations to increase efficiency, reduce labor costs, and obtain larger and higher-quality fruit.