Commercial

Helicopters Dry Cherries in Preparation for Chinese New Year

By S.L. Fuller | January 19, 2017
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Alpine Helicopters AS350

Photo courtesy of Alpine Helicopters

At least one Alpine Helicopters Eurocopter (Airbus Helicopters) AS350 has been given the task of caring for thousands of tons of cherries in New Zealand, news outlets reported. Mass amounts of product are set to make their way from Oceana to Asia for Chinese New Year celebrations. Helicopters have been called in to fly over cherry orchards to protect the crops.

Reuters reported that China has become the second-largest buyer of New Zealand cherries — Taiwan remains the first. The two countries account for some 60% of all cherry exports for the country. Chinese New Year is Jan. 28. In preparation, producers have been asking for helicopters to fly just above tree-height to operate like fans to dry crops after rain. Too much moisture, mixed with heat, causes cherries to swell and split open, or grow mold.

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Helicopters can also be seen drying cherries in other areas of the globe, like the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. Washington’s Chelan Fresh Marketing has used an Airlift Helicopters Sikorsky S-58s to dry its acres of cherries.

Drones could also have a place in the business, as Washington State University tested a cherry-drying remote-controlled helicopter drone in 2015.

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