Student needed: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring - June to September
Faculty mentor name: Wei Qiang Yang
BES Facility: NWREC
Location (town) of internship: 15210 NE Miley Rd. Aurora, OR
Hourly Salary: $13.5 Expected hours/week: 8AM-4:30PM
Student may be asked to work on weekends or outside of 8-5. When running field blueberry samples, it may require work after 5PM or come before 8AM.
Are Housing Benefits included in addition to hourly salary? no
Student will have interaction with minors or access to hazardous chemicals. Student will need to complete a criminal background check.
Student will be operating vehicles or farm equipment/machinery. Student will need to submit a driving background.
The blueberry machine harvest project will work with a modified commericla blueberry harvester to test the fresh quality of blueberries picked by this new machine. This is a Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) funded program to develop a next generation machine harvester for fresh market blueberries. Our team of scientists include engineers from the USDA and the University of Georgia who help configure the new harvester and enable us to tes it in commercial blueberry fields.
Mechanically harvesting blueberries is not new to growers. The over-the-row (OTR) harvester has been used to harvest blueberries since the early 1960’s. Compared to hand picking, OTR harvesting has two major limitations for harvesting fresh quality blueberries. The first is the significant ground losses resulting from the inability of catch plates to close tightly around the base of blueberry plants, which is still an engineering challenge in today’s modern OTR harvesters. The second limitation is bruising damage to fruits caused by long distances fruits fall and travel on conveyer belts to the beer flats. In follow up studies, more decay in mechanically harvested berries as compared to hand-harvested fruits was observed in both highbush and rabbiteye blueberries. Recently, a hand-held hook shaker was tested for harvesting fresh quality blueberries in Chile (Jorge Retamales, personal communication). From 2015 to 2017, we field-tested a pneumatic Campagnola ‘Golia’ olive shaker to mechanically harvest four blueberry cultivars (‘Draper’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Legacy’, and ‘Aurora’) in commercial fields. The results demonstrated that fruit qualities such as firmness and internal bruising did not differ between fruits harvested with a hand-held ‘Golia’ olive shaker and those harvested by hand. Operating air pressure (65 psi vs. 45 psi) did not affect total yield, or the percent of green and red fruits. By mounting a larger ‘Golia’ pneumatic shaker to a harvester frame, we were able to improve picking efficiency compared with hand harvest. This project will use these ‘Golia’ shakers installed in an Oxbo commercial blueberry harvester with a modified catch surface to harvester blueberries for the fresh market. Fresh quality of berries will be tested postharvest for storage quality and other traits.
JOB DESCRIPTION (list specific expectations, including any prerequisite skills)
Ex: For this project, the student intern will be expected to spend 25-35 hours per week outdoors and up to 15 hours per week in an indoor lab. Previous experience with a manual shift is necessary.
The student intern is expected to work in commercial blueberry fields 10-16 hours per week to help take fruit samples and 10-16 hours in the lab for fruit quality testing. Because the experiments will be in grower’s field, it’s expected the student intern will drive to the field alone to perform required work. Some greenhouse work from 10-16 hours per week will be expected as well to take care of blueberry plants for supporting the machine harvester project. Ability to operate pH meters is expected. Student will learn data organization and analysis using SAS. Excel experience is preferred.