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Capital Press: Western Innovator

MOSES LAKE, Wash. — J.J. Dagorret doesn’t make detailed drawings. When he gets an idea he mulls it over in his mind.

“I get irritable. I need my concentration. I can be like a mad scientist,” he says. 

When he’s ready, he tells his workers what he needs. What to cut. What to weld. What goes here. What goes there. How long that needs to be. No, it needs to go like that. 

“It’s all wrapped up in my head and I can see it. It takes me eight weeks to build a prototype. I like the nuts and bolts side of things,” he says.

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Amanda Mason
2017 World Ag Expo- Top Ten Award

By Ryan Bell

PUBLISHED October 26, 2016

Last fall, I picked a wild apple from a tree growing in the Ile-Alatau Mountains of southern Kazakhstan. It was a Malus sieversii, wild ancestor of the cultivated apple. Biting into it, the flavor was bitter—a “spitter,” as apple aficionados call them—nothing like the sweet Fuji apples I eat from the tree on my family’s farm in Washington State.

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Amanda Mason
FEATURE: To Save Apples, Look to Their Wild Roots

Making apple trees grow shorter over the years has made them easier to pick and ship, but it has also left them more vulnerable to disease.

By Ryan Bell

PUBLISHED October 26, 2016

Last fall, I picked a wild apple from a tree growing in the Ile-Alatau Mountains of southern Kazakhstan. It was a Malus sieversii, wild ancestor of the cultivated apple. Biting into it, the flavor was bitter—a “spitter,” as apple aficionados call them—nothing like the sweet Fuji apples I eat from the tree on my family’s farm in Washington State.

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Amanda Mason
FEATURE: How Best To Integrate Man And Machine

By: Christina Herrick May 27, 2016

Karen Lewis, tree fruit regional specialist with Washington State University Extension, often prefaces her talks on mechanization with a tale of two orchards. She drops off two platforms at Orchard A and Orchard B. She goes through how to work the equipment, all the needed how-to information, gets crews started on them, and then lets the crews on each orchard go.

Two weeks later, she returns to both orchards and discovers markedly different attitudes.

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Amanda Mason
Capital Press: Apple Harvest Article

Sometimes less is more. That may be true in the development of automated harvesters as the U.S. apple industry continues its quest for mechanization to save money and alleviate labor shortages.

For years, developers have focused on prototype harvesters that replace picking bags and ladders with conveyor belts or vacuum tubes and adjustable platforms that allow pickers to more easily reach the fruit. The belts or tubes carry the fruit to a sorting area on the machine, where optical scanners or people separate the apples into bins.

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Amanda Mason