Gleaner Productivity, Implied Piece Rates, and Implications for Citrus Mechanical Harvesting

Fritz M Roka, Barbara R Hyman

Abstract


Many horticultural crops, including citrus, are harvested with hand labor. The purpose of this paper is to estimate a functional relationship between worker productivity and available crop yield. The extent to which productivity is influenced by fruit availability could have important implications on predicting the necessary piece rate for hand harvesters to “glean” after mechanical harvesting systems, and to provide some economic guidance into engineering goals for improved fruit recovery performance by a mechanical system. Field level data on orange production and harvesting were collected from 112 blocks in southwest Florida. Available yield was found to have a significant and positive effect on worker productivity. Worker productivity increased at a decreasing rate with higher available yield for sweet oranges until worker productivity reached nearly 10 boxes per hour. Gleaning costs are expected to increase at an increasing rate as fruit removal efficiency of mechanical harvesting systems improves. The current high value of fruit prices should continue to encourage gleaning even if a mechanical system collected 99% of available fruit.


Keywords


minimum wage, oranges, yield, hand harvest, fruit prices

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283