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Hansen: Vineyard mechanization – Is grape quality impacted?

Photo courtesy Good Fruit Grower

Photo courtesy Good Fruit Grower

“Mechanical harvesters, introduced in the 1960s, now pick more than 80 percent of Washington’s wine grapes and save the wine industry nearly $20 million each year in labor costs.

Hand harvesting can cost $500 to $1,000 per acre compared with $200 to $400 per acre for mechanical harvesting. Hand labor is still important in vineyards not conducive to machines or where winemakers prefer the human touch.

Many growers have added mechanization to their pruning by using tools like pneumatic pruners and hedging implements that work like pre-pruners but still require some hand labor as a follow-up.”

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Hansen: Vineyard mechanization – Is grape quality impacted?