Identify This: Spinach Harvester

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The two small pulley wheels in the front carry a 1-inch band saw-type blade with 1/8-inch notches to cut spinach leaves.
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The spout extending from the right of the machine carries the spinach to a truck. Just visible is a belt that carries loaded totes to a truck or trailer. Two workers who ride on the platform at the rear fill the totes. This is the only spinach harvester capable of loading totes and trucks.
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Miguel Aguiler and Vicente Arevules Jr., operators, growers and maintainers.
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Harvesting spinach plants is done at night because the plants stand taller when the sun is down.

Built in 2004-’05, this machine was fabricated to perform a specific harvest function. It was designed by Fresh Farms, King City, Calif. It was on the drawing board for eight months, it took seven months to build it and another five months to perfect it. There is no other machine exactly like it. Have you guessed yet? OK then: It’s a spinach harvester. All sheet metal parts are made of polished stainless steel. It is mounted on Challenger rubber tracks cut down to fit between narrow rows and is powered by a Caterpillar engine.

Miguel Aguiler and Vicente Arevules Jr. are the operators, growers and maintainers. The harvester can cut 1 acre in 45 minutes, processing about 15,000 pounds per hour. Miguel says they have cut two days in the mud, a feat that would be almost impossible on wheeled equipment.

Harvesting is done at night, as the plants stand more erect then (note the large lights on the side of the air suction intake). The machine must be cleaned after each use. The belts are cleaned with chlorinated water; stainless steel parts are cleaned with acid.

There is a 10-foot space behind the white catch apron. Air from the blower (right of the steering wheel) carries the plants to the large white belt where debris falls out. A second forced-air space is located at the place where the first belt meets the second belt.

In a 1,200-mile round trip, the harvester was transported from King City to Wellton, Ariz., for the Wellton-Mohawk Tractor Rodeo Jan. 21, 2012. FC

Von Edwards restored a Case cross-mount at age 14 and has been collecting antique iron ever since. Write him at PO Box 216, Roosevelt, UT 84066; (435) 724-0372 (no calls after 8 p.m.);

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