Our next guest in the monthly mini interview is Stuart Payne from GP Graders. We’ve talked about cherry season and the ways to successfully identify defects to manage challenges during season. ⚖️ 🍒 Q: How would you sum up the cherry season in Central Europe? A: The European season was very challenging due to weather problems. In the central part, like Belgium or Germany – due to very intense and frequent rains, the yield is estimated to be half the amount expected. In addition, the quality of the fruit was unsatisfactory and caused problems with harvesting and with the preparation of the product for sale. In countries such as Slovakia or Poland, where the rainfall was not so troublesome, it is estimated that the 2021 season was correct. 🍒 Q: How the modern technology can support growers in identify defects in the challenging season like this year’s? A: We believe the pandemic has served as a watershed moment for businesses. Quite simply, it’s time to automate and take labour out of the equation as much as practically possible. Labour has become too expensive and unreliable. GP Graders have invested into the development of its own proprietary vision grading system and for the past 3 years, have been building a reputation for a truly superior sorting solution for cherries, blueberries and snack tomatoes. The four lane cherry grading line we installed in northern Greece was a huge success. Fitted with gpVision™ and complimented with our new MultiView™ cameras with colour and size separation is near-perfect and defect detection is pulling the vast majority of defected fruit out before it reaches any degree of final inspection. Each lane of the grading line processed a little more than 700kg per lane, or 2 ½ tonne on a four lane machine without any depreciation in grading outcomes. In a world-first, gpVision™ is now removing all fresh splits on cherry and grape tomatoes. Another achievement unmatched in the packing industry. 🍒 Q: What is the forecast for upcoming season? What trends do you see in the market? A: The most significant limitation with optical grading of fruit is actually a physical one. How do you ‘see’ every part of the surface of the fruit all of the time. Certainly, we use mechanical operations to rotate the cherry as it passes under the cameras but there is still room for error in this process. Earlier this year we successfully rolled out our new MultiView™ camera system, bringing the entire fruit surface into the picture. Adding another 6 cameras to the equation per lane, the MultiView™ camera system now captures 100% of the fruit surface area, allowing for significantly improved defect detection. We see this technological advancement becoming the new normal. The significant reduction in the need for manual sorting ensures the investment is quickly offset.