Crop damage is not a big problem, Franzoy said.
“When everything works perfect, there’s no more damage,” he said. “You do it in boxes now, and it’s very gentle way to do it. When we watch everything, there’s very little damage.”
But, he said, mechanized harvesting works best with hardier onions, Franzoy agreed.
“That’s another reason we don’t do a sweet onion, because they’re softer,” he said.
There are skeptics, where machine harvesting is concerned.
“Based on what I’ve seen over the last few years, it’s highly unlikely to be successful,” said Jamie Hooper, general manager of Las Cruces, N.M.-based Charles Johnson Co.