Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Equipment Harvesting
P.E.I. company producing new wild blueberry harvester

new wild blueberry harvester

March 26, 2008  By Dan Woolley

Growers with small wild blueberry plots have a new harvester that appears to be tailor-made for modest acreage.

Growers examine a small, self-propelled blueberry harvester developed by Acadian Machine Works of Tignish, P.E.I.
Photo by Dan Woolley

Growers with small wild blueberry plots have a new harvester that appears to be tailor-made for modest acreage.

Acadian Machine Works of Tignish, P.E.I., began manufacturing a $10,500, self-propelled, two-wheeled machine earlier this year. The harvester’s parts are all comprised of standard, off-the-shelf items. These include a 5.5 hp. Honda gas engine, driven through a Peerless transmission adapted from a lawn tractor with six forward gears and one reverse gear and a differential on its axle so it can rapidly turn in a narrow circle, says company spokesman Marc Doucette.


He feels these features, plus the machine’s 26-inch wide harvester head, make it a practical harvesting tool for growers with small plots of eight to 20 acres.

It can harvest an acre of fruit in four hours, he says. “A lot of big growers are looking at it to clean up the edges of their fields they can’t get at with their big machine harvesters.”

To date, Acadian has built six of the new harvesters, five of which have already been sold on P.E.I.

Doucette believes the harvester will help growers who are finding it difficult to hire workers to hand rake or push harvesting carts. “This could do the work of two or three people with push carts.”

Marc Doucette of Acadian Machine Works demonstrates how the blueberry harvester works during a recent Wild Blueberry Producers’ Association of Nova Scotia field day.
Photo by Dan Woolley

He designed the 350-pound harvester last fall at the request of John Handrahan, a large wild blueberry grower near Tignish. “Acadian built it under contract for me,” recalls Handrahan. “I came up with the requirements and the idea and Marc turned it into a machine.

“My father, Leo, wanted to build a high speed head harvester. We played around with a tractor-
mounted one. We got it close, but never to perfection.”

Handrahan’s new harvester does not require calibration and, because of its sealed bearings, it will never leak oil, thus avoiding the necessity to use the expensive lubricants required now in food processing and harvesting machinery for food safety regulations. It’s expected the machine’s bearings will never wear out and will last a long time since the small harvester will only be used for three weeks during the harvest season.

While the Acadian machine is not the first small, self-propelled blueberry harvester to be designed and built, Handrahan believes the big differences in the machine he commissioned is its transmission and blower, which removes debris, sticks and leaves picked up by the harvest head before the fruit drops into the harvester’s collection baskets.

The machine’s harvester head will not dig into the soil and is so well-balanced that “I am fairly confident a small person could use this in most situations,” Handrahan says.

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