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Economic Studies :: Evaluating Costs and Benefits
of Current Systems


Research by Ron Muraro (200*) compares cost of production between Sao Paulo, Brazil and Florida. Brazilian growers can harvest oranges for less than 50-cents per 90-pound box. Florida growers pay at least three times more, or $1.50 per box to manually pick and roadside processed oranges.

Success of any mechanical harvesting (MH) system will be judged by its ability to reduce “net” harvesting costs. Benefits are measured as the unit cost difference between boxes harvested by a MH system versus the unit cost to harvest the same boxes with a hand harvest crew. Costs include tree preparation for MH systems, value of non-harvested fruit, and the higher cost per box associated with gleaning fruit. A computer-based tool can help growers and harvesting contractors to organize and evaluate the relevant cost data and, hence, determine which available harvest method achieves the lowest “net” unit cost ($/box to pick fruit and deliver to the bulk trailer).


  1. Develop decision-aids to help growers and commercial harvesters evaluate the economic viability of specific harvesting systems.
  2. Compile grower cost data on grove preparation for trunk and/or canopy shake systems.
  3. Update machine investment information, document changes in operator wages, and fuel costs, and determine how such changes will affect overall costs of mechanical systems.

Key Findings (Update 12/07)

  1. Excel spreadsheet incorporated into a web-based model and available for grower use at http://citrustool.ifas.ufl.edu.
  2. Gleaning should be evaluated as a separate decision from mechanical harvesting. Glean or not to glean a function of unit gleaning costs, roadsiding, hauling, and the delivered-in value of the fruit. Unit costs to glean will increase as recovery percentage of the mechanical system improves (i.e. less fruit available to be gleaned).

Activities planned for 2007-08

  1. Analysis of gleaner productivity
  2. Incorporate productivity results into the Harvest Decision Tool as a sub-model to estimate gleaning costs.



Dollar$ and Cents behind Citrus Mechanical Harvesting

Annual Progress Report 2006-2007 (PDF; 290kb)


Citrus Harvesting Decision Tool

Citrus Industry Magazine article, July 2007


Bartow 2007 PPT on gleaning

For more information

Fritz Roka
Ron Muraro

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