Summer of the Archives

Have you ever scrolled through the many items in the North Carolina Digital Collections and discovered a hidden treasure? Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our collection in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials in our digital collections.

Cucumber Harvester, Grants #41 and #109 (Call no.: Econ. Devel. RG. Sci. & Tech. Devel. Section, Sci. & Tech. Research Cntr.: Photo File)

Cucumber Harvester, Grants #41 and #109 (Call no.: Econ. Devel. RG. Sci. & Tech. Devel. Section, Sci. & Tech. Research Cntr.: Photo File)

For those of us who like to eat our vegetables, summertime means delicious, fresh produce! And North Carolina, with its abundant farmland, is a fine place to be! This image, from our brand new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Digital Collection, is one of several photos that show how old agricultural practices can be improved upon with technology to produce greater yields with less labor. The cucumber harvester in this photograph was developed between 1964 and 1966 by the North Carolina Pickle Producers Association and the N.C. State Agricultural Engineering Department with a grant from the North Carolina Board of Science and Technology, and then manufactured by the Aeroglide Corporation of Raleigh in 1967. Peter J. Chenery, then Director of the N.C. Board of Science and Technology, describes the project on pages 4-6 of a speech he presented on September 19, 1968, at the Conference on Science, Technology, and State Government:

“The difficult problem which had to be solved with this machine was due to the fact that all of the cucumbers don’t ripen at the same time. In order to harvest the full crop, it is necessary to go back to the field four, five, or six times at intervals of several days to pick cucumbers as they mature and reach the proper size. Thus the machine cannot pull up the cucumber vines but must leave them in place. As you see, the machine has passed over the row, harvested most of the ripe cucumbers and left the vines growing to be harvested again…

“The Comparison between machine harvesting and manual picking indicates that one mechanical harvester… will do the work of between 20 and 25 men picking by hand.”

For more information on Agriculture in North Carolina check, out this list of articles at NCpedia.

For more information on Science, Technology, and Innovations in North Carolina, check out this list of articles at NCpedia.

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