Grower-processor relationships and logistic issues associated with the adoption of mechanical harvesting of citrus in Florida

Thomas H. Spreen


Mechanical harvesting of citrus offers the potential of substantial costs savings for citrus growers in Florida. These costs savings, however, depend upon the number of hours per day and per season that a mechanical harvester is operated (Roka 2006). To realize substantial costs savings, Roka suggests that a mechanical harvester must be utilized at least 1000 hours per season. With a harvest season of less than 200 days, this figure implies that a particular machine must operate at least five hours per day to realize cost gains. Citrus processing plants face daily capacity constraints due to limited extractor capacity and/or evaporator capacity. A large processing plant in Florida can accept over 100 loads of fruit per day. The problem comes from the fact that under present policy, plants try to accommodate many suppliers each day, resulting in small individual load allocations. It is clear that under mechanical harvesting, the process of small individual load allocations must be modified. Such a change would require operational changes in the way processors plan their harvest schedule and a change in attitude among growers regarding their access to processing capacity. In this paper, the load allocation problem and other issues related to growerprocessor relationships are discussed with implications for overall cost savings. Suggestions on how change may occur and other cost issues are also discussed.


Florida Citrus; harvesting scheduling; profits

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

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