Spinach Harvester Makes Hand Labor Obsolete
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For years, the supposed need for more and more agricultural workers has been a great justification for illegal labor.   You know, the ”doing work Americans won’t do” and ”crops rotting in the fields” arguments. 

But there’s this process called mechanization which keeps advancing.   

Wheat farming in America has been mechanized since the 19th century, so it’s been hard to justify illegal labor on wheat farms.  Illegal labor justifiers have typically concentrated on vegetables and strawberries and those sorts of crops. 

My dad alerted me to an article in the agricultural press about spinach farming.  It’s about a father-daughter spinach operation 45 miles from the Mexican border, in Zavala County, Texas

It’s part of the Winter Garden area, where vegetables are produced year-round. 

Ed, the father, is in charge of farming the spinach, Paige, the daughter, is in charge of Food Safety Quality Assurance.   Their harvested spinach is taken in refrigerated trucks to be processed on the eastern seaboard and Canada.  

Here’s what the article says about mechanization:

The replacement of hand labor with a three-bed mechanical harvester has been revolutionary as well. While this technology resolved many labor issues, it also helped them shift with the market demand from large-leaf spinach, which is canned or frozen, to fresh baby spinach.  “We had to adapt to stay in business,” Ed said. And they have. The mechanical harvester has also enabled them to increase plant populations from 30,000 baby leaf spinach seeds per acre to 3.5 million seeds per acre, “which would have been impossible with hand labor,” Ed added.
Popeye’s pick: Father/daughter grow supercharged greens, FarmProgress.com,  by Shelley E. Huguley, May 10, 2024

Here’s a photo from the article of the spinach harvester, designed by Jimmy Crawford and Vogel Engineering:

Three bed mechanical harvester replaced hand labor. (Leslie Dominguez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension)

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