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Watermelon picker plucks second place

January 25, 2019
Jerry Martin of Pee Dee Precision shows his melon picker in the closed position at the SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo on Thursday

FLORENCE, S.C. – Three Pee Dee individuals put their heads together and designed a better watermelon picker.

Pee Dee Precision Team members Jerry Martin and Smith Gaddy, both of Latta, and Robby Jowers of Camden took second place in the Ag-Bot Challenge for the Watermelon Harvest Challenge, held in Indiana.

According to Martin, there was need for a better harvester.

“If the harvester is too strong, it crushes the melon,” Martin said Thursday at the S.C. AgriBiz & Farm Expo at the Florence Center, where he was showing his device.

Some people were under the impression it was a watermelon launcher, but that was not the case.

“We sat here last year and talked to people about harvesting,” Martin said. “Everyone’s got an idea.”

The trio worked out the system design, which uses a counter-balance to pick the watermelons off the ground and transfer them for transportation.

“We came up with about 100 concepts before we started whittling them down,” he said. “The counter-balance design does not crush the melons.”

The team took second place only to Virginia Tech. Cal-Poly Technical took third place.

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