Tob. Sci., 1995, 39-3, p. 100-4. ISSN.0082-4623

Evaluation of a commercial harvesting system for Burley tobacco

University of Kentucky, Dept. of Plant Pathology, Lexington, KY, USA

A commercial version of the wire-strung portable frame system developed at the University of Kentucky was manufactured by Powell Manufacturing Co., Inc. for the 1992 and 1993 harvesting seasons. An evaluation of system performance during harvesting was conducted during 1993. A harvesting rate of about one frame per labor-hr (264 plants/frame) was achieved with crews of 5 or 6 workers. Hanging efficiency, defined as the plants hung as a percentage of plants harvested, was about 99% for the commercial system compared to 97% for an experimental system developed earlier. Hanging efficiency was shown to be variety dependent. The improvement in hanging efficiency was attributed to a top-flight conveyer that was added to the machine for 1993 to guide the plants through the notching saw and onto the horizontal conveyer belt. The mechanized system requires about half the labor of conventional harvesting. With a 6 worker crew, harvesting capacities of 0.78 to 0.85 hectares/day may be attained.