The major reasons for developing mechanical technologies for olive harvesting are the chronic shortage of workers for manual harvesting and increasing labor costs. To enable these technologies to operate, new table olive cultivars suitable for mechanical harvesting are necessary. The two major factors required for the shift from manual to mechanical harvesting of table olives are improved harvesting efficiency and prevention of fruit injury. Improved harvesting efficiency requires suitable pretreatment to enable fruit abscission with minimal defoliation, even when the harvesting is performed by a trunk shaker. The second requirement is prevention of external fruit color change or browning as a result of fruit injury, by development of olive cultivars with firm skin and higher resistance to the bruising caused by mechanical harvesting. This genetic adaptation to mechanical harvesting must be accompanied by efficient post-harvest processing of the olives. In this chapter, we will review the published studies regarding mechanical harvest of table olives, and attempt to identify the main issues, which still need to be studied in order to facilitate the transition from hand to mechanical harvest of table olives.
Part of the book: Olive Cultivation