Automated Strawberry Calyx and Defects Removal Technology for Improving Food Quality and Safety and Minimizing Field Labor.

Period of Performance: 09/16/2016 - 12/31/2016


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

14227 REED FARM WAY Array
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Strawberries are the 2nd largest non-citrus fruit crop in the U.S., trailing grapes and surpassing apples (USDA 2012). With strawberries harvested for processing (as a value-added food ingredient), the calyx (the stem cap with green crown leaves) must be removed to avoid having inedible leaves in the food product. The current in-field labor intensive de-capping processUsing cutting tools risks finger laceration and food cross-contamination. The current defect sorting practice is labor intensive and prone to errors and human fatigue.The overall goal of this research is to revolutionize strawberry processing practices by moving the calyx removal process from the field to the processing plant and automating the defect sorting process. This change will be accomplished by developing an automated, imaging-guided calyx cutting and defect detection technology featuring bladeless high-pressure thin water knives. With proven concepts and feasibility from Phase I, the Phase II research will lead to the development of a fully-automated prototype system.This research will lead to a new technology that will revolutionize the strawberry processing industry by huge savings in field labor, while enhancing the quality for value-added products, and worker/food safety.