Courtesy Stemilt GrowersWest Mathison, president of Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers, speaks at the dedication of the company's fifth cherry line June 14.Stemilt Growers has installed a fifth cherry line.
The line is equipped with electronic sizing and defect-sorting equipment, according to a company news release. The line began operating at Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt’s Euclid Street facility the weekend of June 15-16.
“We’ve been tracking this electronic sizing and defect sorting technology for over five years, and feel that it’s finally ready to be implemented on a commercial level,” West Mathison, Stemilt’s president, said in the release. “We believe that the technology on this line will help us improve returns to the land through better sizing and sorting of cherries, while simultaneously reducing sorting costs.”
The line features two, 10-lane electronic sizers with defect sorters made by GP Graders. Sizing cherries and sorting each piece of fruit automatically replaces the traditional method of using a diverging roll sizer to size cherries and the human eye to sort fruit.
The line can handle 12 or 13 tons of cherries per hour, Jay Fulbright, vice president of operations, said in the release. It will sort cherries for color, firmness, and defects, and is able to size cherries in half rows instead of just full rows. The line also is designed to more gently handle fruit, thanks to reduced drops and drop heights.
“The Euclid line will enable us to efficiently and consistently pack a high-quality box of cherries,” Fulbright said. “It delivers on accurate sizing and equips us with the ability to pack cherries according to set parameters, such as firmness or removal of certain defects.”
In addition to the GP Graders equipment, the line features two machines, made by Sorma, that offer flexibility in packaging cherries in a variety of pack types, including clamshells, bags, and bulk.
Stemilt will experiment with air-drying cherries prior to packaging to see if it improves the overall quality and freshness of the pack. The Euclid line is also equipped with an eliminator sizer, called Herbie, which cleans up small-sized cherries and sends them to designated sorting tables for manual sorting.