Olive Fruit Detachment Force against Pulling and Torsional Stress

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Olive harvesting often requires high hand labour, considering that workers, with long poles or hand held devices, aid trunk shaker due to low harvesting efficiency. Currently, fruit detachment force (FDF) and fruit fresh weight were used to predict harvesting efficiency, although during harvesting process, fruit is subjected to bending and twisting movement besides pulling forces simulated by FDF measurements. For these reasons, the aim of the present study was to determine FDF evolution under different stalk twisting angles. In order to provide more information about mechanical behaviour of olive stalk, a trial was carried out during ripening process on four olive (Olea europaea L.) cultivars: Frantoio, Arbequina, Leccino and Maurino. FDF under traction force was measured after applying different stalk twisting angles (0°, 90°, 180°, 270°, 360°, 540°, 720º). FDF was considered to be 0 when fruit was detached from the bearing branch during the twisting process. Fruit weight, firmness, ripeness index and oil content were also measured to determine the optimal period for olive harvesting and olive ripening stage at each sampling date. FDF was significantly reduced, usually over 180º, when stalk was rotated before applying the pull force to measure FDF, keeping differences along fruit ripening process. Moreover, stalk twisting was an important variable for olive detachment, considering that fruits detached without pulling forces varied between 10.7 and 58.8% of the total fruits according with the different sampling dates. For these reasons, present and future harvesting systems, should take advantage of stalk susceptibility against torsion or bending strain to increase harvesting efficiency.

Francisco J. Castillo-Ruiz
Sergio Tombesi
Daniela Farinelli
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research