Despite all the rain we have been having (in which we are very grateful for) the Manteca harvest has been tough but we are making it happen. When the ground it wet it is not easy to dig our plants which makes harvest a challenge from time to time. These are some photos that were taken at sunrise on the morning of Thursday January 19, 2017.
Here is a quick video of the Bramble Plant Harvest up in Shastina, CA
We started our Bramble plant harvest up in Shastina, CA this week. Here are a few photos from this foggy morning.
This year was the first year that Lassen Canyon Nursery implemented its automated plant sorter system as a fully integrated stand-alone system for plant processing. Several years ago Lassen Canyon Nursery along with its colleagues at Crown Nursery, Driscoll’s, Nor Cal Nursery, and Plant Sciences joined forces with the Robotics department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA to come up with software to “see” good strawberry plants. The software engineers came up with a vision system that was capable of identifying an acceptable plant and discarding low quality or otherwise unacceptable plants. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the easy part…the hard part was to figure out a way to get all those thousands of strawberry plants separated from one another after they were harvested and spread out on the vision belt so the camera could “see” them so the software could do its job. Our group came up with a system of separating the plants (singulating) that works pretty well and then the problem arose of what to do with the separated and graded plants after they had been sorted. The plants still had to be trimmed and organized neatly in a box that was acceptable to the customer and the box had to have a consistent amount of plants in it. Some nurseries simply had the plants graded with the machine and delivered to human trimmers who were able to go through the singulated/graded plants at a much more rapid pace than the old fashioned way. Lassen Canyon wanted a fully integrated system. It had a “back end” built that allowed the graded plants to be organized by human into small groups. The groups (in Lassen’s case we used ten plants) are set in a pocket conveyer and sent through a set of saw blades for trimming tops and roots. The plants then pass through sensors that count the plants before they fall into a hopper and on into a box that is managed by a packer. The packer neatly organizes the plants into an orderly pack. The sensor alerts the packer when the appropriate box count is reached (In most cases in the high elevation harvest, that number is 1500 plants) and the packer sends the box to be closed, stamped and palletized. Here is a video of the Machine at work: This was the first year that all systems were ready to go and the Team Robot group worked all season. At first the production was really slow as the new robot trimmers learned how to gather the plants quickly. By the end of the season the productivity of the group was up to an impressive level for entry level trimmers. The good plants they could get out of a bin of plants equaled the number the experienced trimmers got trimming conventionally which was a milestone! We at Lassen Canyon Nursery are very proud of our Team Robot trimmers and their supervisor Abraham Renaga, the Robot Handler Oscar Rodriguez and Mechanic Ramon Hernandez. Although we are sure these devices will evolve to be more automated and more efficient, we are happy to be on our way with our stand alone system. Well done Team Robot
There are lots of long cold nights harvesting up in Macdoel, CA. during our fall strawberry plant harvest. Thankfully we are rounding off the last week of harvest up in Macdoel. Crystal and her assistant Roslynn got up really early to hit the road and catch the action one last time before harvest was through. It was about 34 degrees with a slight wind making it a nice brisk morning. Thankfully there was cloud cover for one that makes for awesome photos and also because it would have been a lot colder without them. I hope you enjoy this video showing our harvest in the early morning hours.
SafeStart & Lassen Canyon NurseryLassen Canyon Nursery is involved in a program called SafeStart. Safestart is designed to keep safety fresh in employees minds as they are working. Today our HR Director Susie introduced our Manteca Trimshed employees the SafeStart program. Safestart can be designed around your type of work. If you would like information about the SafeStart program visit their website here safestart.com. Susie snapped a few photos while in Manteca, CA today:
Andrew is the oldest son of Elizabeth Elwood-Ponce (Vice President of Lassen Canyon), during this year’s harvest he has been learning the Family Business. When harvest started he went down to Southern California and sat with Mel Fernandez, one of our Sales Representatives, for a week and observed what he does. During harvest our sales reps are busy contacting growers to figuring out how many plants they are needing, then they organize and load the trucks with processed plants to head down to the fruiting fields. Today Andrew thought he would try his hand at trimming. He verified it is harder than it looks. Every plant that we ship has to be trimmed and packed into boxes of 1,000 or 1,500 (depending on weight and size). From the time harvest starts to the around Thanksgiving, Lassen Canyon Nursery ships over 200 million plants down to Southern California, Santa Maria, Watsonville/Salinas and all over the US & Canada and the World.