Washington Patent of the Month – October 2022
Virgil Gamache Farms, Inc., a fourth generation hop farm in Yakima Valley. With an extensive history, this farm has grown from farming alfalfa, wheat, corn and more to discovering a unique and never-before-seen hop, which they termed VG (Virgil Gamache); XP(Experimental); 01 (Number One), after their namesake. This discovery grew into a global provider of the carefully cultivated VGXP01 hops. But scaling from local farmers to global farmers is no easy task; and with this growth, came technical process improvements.
Tools and processes to improve efficiency and return of product are crucial to meeting their growing demand. This R&D has contributed to the recently granted patent for their hop picking finger.
This picking finger contributes to the automated harvesting of their hops. Designed from a single length of wire with a V-shaped tip and two “legs”. Coils sit between the middle and lower sections of each leg, allowing the picking finger to flex and spring back when pressure is applied to the “V”.
The picking fingers are installed in harvesting equipment, positioned in a row without overlapping. This slight separation ensures any individual finger can be easily replaced without disturbing the others. In tests, the fingers effectively separate hop cones from other plant material, making the harvesting process much more efficient.
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