Originally developed in 2008 by Keith Zimmerman to help alleviate a local farmer’s sore back. The machine allows farmers to pick produce while lying down.
The Picking Assistant was added to the CropCare product line when there proved to be a potential market. It’s manufactured by PBZ LLC of Lititz, PA.
The Picking Assistant has undergone several small updates over the past 7 years.
Introduced the first major new model in the fall of 2015. It gained national attention in August after a news broadcast by WGAL News 8 reporter Meredith Jorgensen, operating the PA1600 at Plum Creek Farm, was syndicated.
This latest model includes wider, more aggressive tires for better traction in muddy conditions, a gear drive motor system, variable speed controls, and solar panels to eliminate the need to bring the machine in from the field for charging. Large rear produce trays on each machine hold 5 strawberry flats to minimize trips to and from the field.
Many updates to the picking/planting assistant were based on customer feedback.
Plum Creek Farm in Berks County, PA., used three machine last year, which played a critical role in refining the new model in preparation for release to the market. The farm continues to use the PA1600 to harvest strawberries for sale at its farm market stand.
Sales of the picking assistant have increased more than 200% since September 2015.
(Machine enables farmer to lie down while picking/planting)
The decades Joe Faust spent operating a dairy farm and multi-crop business caught up to him at age 75.
But Joe’s mind was telling him, “No way!”
With CropCare’s Picking Assistant, he doesn’t have to.
Joe, with his wife Rosi, own The Berry Dairy in Malone, Wisconsin. It began as a dairy farm in 1977, but when milk prices began falling, they started growing strawberries and sweet corn to supplement their income. They eventually sold the dairy herd and concentrated on their fruit and vegetable operations.
Thankfully, the couple’s sons, Jeff and Joey, now operate much of the 18-acre produce farm and greenhouses. But Joe isn’t ready to stop working altogether.
“I used to pick berries for two hours, and then I’d have to take a break,” said the 75-year-old farmer. “With the Picking Assistant, I can pick berries for 8 to 10 hours a day, sometimes more.” Continue reading ..