patent number 4976094
A harvester adapted for harvesting low-lying fruit, such as typical with high-density, dwarf trees, includes an intra-loop conveyor for collecting detached fruit relatively close to the ground and elevating same with a single flighted belt. The harvester straddles a single row of the trees and detaches the fruit therefrom by repeatedly impacting the tree canopies as the harvester moves along the row. Spring-loaded deflection plates close around the tree trunks and deflect detached fruit outwardly to interior surfaces of a pair of single-loop conveyors. Baffles cooperating with the interior of each conveyor restrains fruit therein as the conveyor passes overhead to an inverted position. Fruit is discharged from the conveyor elevated segment onto an output conveyor passing beneath the discharge area. The output conveyor includes a multi-segment, foldable conveyor frame over which a single conveyor belt is entrained. The conveyor belt may be folded over the harvester during non-harvesting transport. Canopy-impacting tines function as fruit detachment devices, and are rotatably driven in a single plane with both constant rotational and oscillatory rotational components of motion. The constant component is synchronized with vehicle forward speed to permit unimpeded feeding of trees through the harvester. The superimposed oscillatory component causes tines to sharply impact tree canopies for detaching fruit therefrom. Both the amplitude and frequency of such impacting action may be varied.
Clemson University (Clemson, SC)