Conventional stripping of burley tobacco is labor intensive and typically requires 50 to 75 worker hours per acre (wkr•h/acre). The goal of the project was to reduce labor by optimizing leaf removal by string trimmer heads using combinations of strings lengths and motor speeds. In tests conducted on a single grade, all leaves outside the grade were removed by hand. Plants were run through the machine for string lengths of 13, 18, and 23 cm (5, 7, and 9 in.) and associated motor speeds which were monitored and recorded. Stripping efficiencies were calculated for each plant and collectively for each set of four plants. The machine was then tested for three grade stripping efficiency. Particle size analysis tests were run to determine potential losses due to leaf shredding. Efficiencies for single grade testing ranged from 93% to 96% for optimal string length and speed combinations. Stripping three grades by machine resulted in an average of 97% efficiency. Potential losses due to shredding accounted for 5.6% of the total weight mechanically removed. It is believed that this stripping concept, implemented on a full scale four grade basis, could result in savings of at least 45 wkr•h/ha (18 wkr•h/acre).

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Published in Applied Engineering in Agriculture, v. 29, no. 2, p. 171-178.

Copyright 2013 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

The copyright holder has granted permission for posting the article here.

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