An inexpensive method to mechanically pregrade citrus fruit in processing plants is needed to improve effectiveness of manual grading and reduce handling costs. The need for mechanical pregrading will increase with mechanically harvested fruit which will contain more damaged and unwholesome fruit than manually harvested fruit. Chemical abscission to loosen the fruit prior to harvest causes considerable pre-drop, and rake-pick-up procedures will be necessary to recover fruit from the ground. Fruit harvested from the ground may contain “old drops” in varying stages of decay. Normal grading procedures are sometimes inadequate to remove the larger amounts of unwholesome fruit present after a freeze or late in the processing season. Such periods require either additional temporary graders or reduced processing rates and occasionally, regrading.

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