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Yai Ulrich Adegbola, Paul R. Fisher and Alan W. Hodges

Hodges, 2010 ). The objectives of this project were to benchmark labor productivity of transplanting cuttings at young plant greenhouse operations and to identify key factors that differentiated between labor efficiency at surveyed firms. A survey was

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Michele R. Warmund, Andrew K. Biggs and Larry D. Godsey

The time required to harvest and field sort chinese chestnuts (Castanea mollissima) with two types of paddock vacuums and with a manual nut-harvesting tool was compared. Pickup time for harvesting chinese chestnuts was faster with a small paddock vacuum (Paddock Vac) than with a manual nut-harvesting tool (Nut Wizard), but field sorting plant material and soil, as well as movement of the small vacuum, was time-consuming. With minor equipment modifications to facilitate sorting, harvest time for a larger paddock vacuum (Maxi Vac) was 2 seconds faster per nut than that for the manual nut-harvesting tool. Economic analyses revealed that the larger modified vacuum also reduced labor costs by $237 when the wage rate was low ($8 per hour) and with total production at 1000 kg. However, with the lower equipment cost, the manual nut-harvesting tool was more economical to use than the modified paddock vacuum, with $8 per hour labor costs and <6370 kg of harvested chestnuts. As labor costs and nut production increased, it was more economically efficient to use the modified paddock vacuum as compared with a manual nut-harvesting tool. At $10, $12, and $15 per hour labor, the modified pasture vacuum was the lowest cost method of harvesting chestnuts at yields >4555, 3466, and 2510 kg, respectively. Thus, the modified pasture vacuum may provide a relatively inexpensive method for new, small producers to mechanize chestnut harvest.

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Shannon Caplan, Bryan Tilt, Gwen Hoheisel and Tara A. Baugher

Increasing labor costs and changes in labor forces have prompted an increased demand for automation in specialty crop production. Implementation of technological innovations in the agricultural sector tends to be slow, thus this study investigated motivations and perceptions of technology. Using qualitative interviewing and analysis, this study used a diffusion of innovations framework to gain insight into what channels of communications impacted planned adoption rates and what aspects of technology influence the decision-making process. Interview participants emphasized the inevitability of implementing new technologies while considering the capital investment of more complex technology, changes in labor management to integrate technology, applicability of technology to current practices, and trust in technology designers.

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T. Auxt Baugher, K. Ellis, J. Remcheck, K. Lesser, J. Schupp, E. Winzeler and K. Reichard

Thinning of blossoms or fruitlets is a labor-intensive requirement in the production of peach and nectarine (Prunus persica) fruit of optimum size and quality. Prior research conducted by the authors on string blossom thinners for managing peach tree crop load demonstrated that this new technology reduces labor requirement and improves fruit size. The research reported in the current article was conducted over 2 years on ‘Sugar Giant’ peach and ‘Arctic Sweet’ nectarine to evaluate string blossom thinner efficacy at variable stages of bloom development ranging from pink to petal fall. Blossom removal at the pink stage of bloom development was lower than at other stages in 2008; however, a 150-rpm versus 120-rpm spindle rotation speed resulted in blossom removal similar to the 80% full bloom (FB) treatment in 2009. Blossom removal at the petal fall stage was similar to the open bloom stage with the exception of the 2009 ‘Sugar Giant’ trial, in which blossom removal was higher at 80% FB. Flower density and fruit set of the bloom stage compared with hand-thinned control treatments followed a similar trend with the exception that there were fewer differences in 2009 and in lower canopy regions. Follow-up hand thinning time was reduced by all string thinning/year combinations except ‘Arctic Sweet’ at pink in 2008 and 2009 and at petal fall in 2009. The best treatments reduced follow-up hand thinning time compared with green fruit hand thinning alone by 51% and 41% for ‘Sugar Giant’ and by 42% and 22% for ‘Arctic Sweet’ in Years 1 and 2, respectively. In 2008, the percentage of fruit in the “7.0 cm or greater” size category was increased by all bloom stage treatments in both cultivars. The 2009 size distribution of ‘Arctic Sweet’ fruit was unaffected, but the percentage of ‘Sugar Giant’ fruit in higher market value size categories was increased by the 80% FB and higher rpm pink treatments. Savings in hand thinning time and/or increases in fruit size in both years associated with the bloom stage treatments resulted in a net positive impact of $123/ha to 1368/ha compared with hand thinning alone.

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James R. Schupp and T. Auxt Baugher

Hand-thinning of fruit is among the most labor-intensive orchard practices and consequently contributes significantly to peach (Prunus persica) production costs. Prior research conducted by the authors on string blossom thinners for managing peach tree cropload demonstrated that this new technology reduces labor requirement and also improves fruit size. Studies were conducted over two seasons in peach orchards trained to perpendicular V or open-center systems to evaluate possible pruning strategies to improve tree canopy access by string thinners. The objectives were to demonstrate if modifications in fruiting shoot orientation, pruning detail, and/or scaffold accessibility improved flower removal, reduced follow-up hand-thinning requirement, and/or increased fruit size. Blossom removal was improved by either detailed pruning or partial pruning (elimination of all shoots on the side of a limb inaccessible by the thinner spindle) in both training systems. Flower density and fruit set measurements revealed greater differences among pruning treatments compared with hand-thinned control treatments with both fruiting shoot orientation pruning modifications and detail pruning resulting in improved thinning. Thinning efficacy was unaffected by scaffold angle but increased as canopy accessibility ranking increased. Follow-up hand-thinning time was reduced by all treatment, system/cultivar, and year combinations except standard pruning in an open center-trained 2009 trial. Detail pruning consistently improved fruit size compared with hand-thinned control and other pruning treatments in both perpendicular V- and open center-trained orchard plots. The best treatments resulted in a thinning savings of $120/ha to $282/ha in perpendicular V plantings and $26/ha to $46/ha in open-center plantings. Realized economic savings beyond hand-thinning alone ranged from $473/ha to $2875/ha in perpendicular V trials and $28/ha to $293/ha in open-center trials.

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J.R. Schupp, T. Auxt Baugher, S.S. Miller, R.M. Harsh and K.M. Lesser

Hand thinning is a necessary but costly management practice in peach (Prunus persica) production. Organic apple (Malus ×domestica) production also may require hand thinning to adjust crop load. Mechanical devices to aid in thinning have been developed, but none has proven highly efficient and capable of completely replacing hand thinning. Narrow canopy training systems and novel peach tree growth habits offer new opportunities to examine mechanical methods for thinning peach and apple trees. Our studies evaluated mechanical thinning devices on peach and organically grown apple trees. In 2005 and 2006, a U.S Department of Agriculture-designed spiked-drum shaker was used to thin pillar (columnar) peach trees at 52 to 55 days after full bloom. The drum shaker, driven at two different speeds in the orchard, reduced crop load an average of 58% and follow-up hand thinning time by 50%, and increased fruit size by 9% at harvest compared with conventional hand-thinned or nonthinned control trees in 2005. In 2006, the shaker was driven at one speed but operated at two different frequencies. At 260 cycles/minute, the drum shaker removed more fruit and reduced crop load to a greater extent than when operated at 180 cycles/minute, however, fruit size at harvest did not differ between the two operating frequencies. The drum shaker reduced follow-up hand thinning time between 54% and 81%. Horticultural and economic evaluations of the drum shaker and/or a German-designed blossom string thinner were conducted in 2007 in four commercial peach orchards trained to a perpendicular V or quad V system and an organic apple block trained to a narrow vertical axis system. Mechanical thinners reduced peach crop load by an average of 36%, decreased follow-up hand thinning time by 20% to 42%, and increased fruit in higher market value size categories by 35%. The net economic impact of mechanical thinning versus hand thinning alone ranged from $175/ha to $1966/ha. Mechanical thinning at 20% full bloom resulted in more fruit in the large size categories (2.75 inches in diameter and larger) than thinning at 80% full bloom. Detailed counts of flowers on branches with different orientations indicated that pruning may be adjusted to improve thinner performance. The string thinner effectively thinned dwarf apple trees trained to a vertical axis system in a certified organic orchard, resulting in a reduction in hand thinning time and an increase in fruit size. Based on our tests, mechanical thinning appears to be a promising technique for supplementing hand thinning in apple and peach trees.

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Tiziano Caruso, Francesco Guarino, Riccardo Lo Bianco and Francesco Paolo Marra

canopies or vertical systems and improve light distribution within the canopy because of their two-dimensional light exposure ( Caruso et al., 1997 ; De Salvador and DeJong, 1989 ; Wagenmakers, 1991 ). On the other hand, labor efficiency or yield per unit

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Yiannis G. Ampatzidis and Matthew D. Whiting

worker safety and harvest efficiency and facilitate the incorporation of mechanization and automation technologies. However, there are limited published reports on the role of canopy architecture on harvest labor efficiency and safety ( Ampatzidis et al

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Marci Spaw and Kimberly A. Williams

This decision case presents the issues a grower would face when deciding where to place and how to orient a high tunnel structure on a specific farm site. It provides a tool to teach site planning concepts on a small scale that are easily transferable to issues addressed when planning for construction of all sizes and types of protected-environment structures. In this case, the owner of Full Moon Farm must decide the placement of her high tunnels on a given farm site. Factors to consider include wind, snow, and ice loads as well as structural integrity, labor efficiency, and optimizing light levels. Ultimately, no one solution meets all recommended criteria, so the grower must prioritize the importance of various factors to come to a decision. This case study is intended for use in upper-level undergraduate horticulture courses, and although the principles are broadly applicable to site planning across geographic regions, it is most appropriate for climates above lat. 35°N. In particular, it may prove useful in courses such as greenhouse management and production courses for vegetables, cut flowers, and small fruits, where students assume the role of grower/farmer in the site planning process. This case study is supported by a website version with digital images, digital video, and maps that can be used both inside and outside of the classroom; all are downloadable from the website The teaching notes present an unorthodox solution to the Full Moon Farm site planning dilemma.

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Wesley K. Asai

In an effort to maximize early return on investment and labor efficiency, cling peach growers in California are using two different types of high-density plantings; the perpendicular-V (1.8m × 4.8m = 930 Trees/ha), and the cordon (2.4m × 4.2m = 925 Trees/ha). The V has the advantage of being more traditional in its establishment, where the cordon has the advantage of higher yields and no need for wires, props or ladders to prune, thin and pick.

This study evaluated the cultural and economic considerations of the two systems with respect to their yields during the orchards' establishment years.The cumulative labor costs, specific to the style of training for the first 3 years was $1258 and $901 per hectare for the cordon and V respectively.

Cumulative yields were 40.4 tons/ha for the cordon and 22.0 tons/ha for the V. When contrasting the net returns per hectare, the cordon, in spite of its higher labor input (due largely to higher thinning and harvest costs), had a net profit advantage of $3362.50 per hectare during the first 3 years of establishment.