A number of companies have contributed research and development efforts into mechanical destemmers, Walker said.
“We’re actually in the process of acquiring a one-row small-plot machine harvester for trials here (on university test plots),” Walker said.
Chris Franzoy, owner of Young Guns Produce in Hatch, said he’d like to see mechanical harvesting for chili peppers, but he also said he wasn’t sure how practical such a system would be.
“I know they’re already mechanically harvesting red peppers but, to date, we have not seen a machine that will harvest the green chilies.”
If researchers are successful and a mechanical harvesting system could come along, it would be an asset, said Bill Coombs, salesman with Arrey, N.M.-based grower-shipper Desert Springs Produce.
“Labor is always an issue. I mean, I’d think you’d have to look at that,” he said.
For now, though, standard hand labor is all that’s available, Coombs said.
“Right now, we have to load them in plastic bins and haul them into the shed and pack them on a grading table,” he said.