New cherry sorting machine unveiled - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New cherry sorting machine unveiled

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YAKIMA, Wash -- Yakima is home to the first electronic cherry sorting machine in the U.S.

Holtzinger Fruit unveiled the Australian made machine, which is designed for Rainer cherries --one of the most delicate fruits.

The computer based machine uses special cameras to sort the cherries. One camera takes images of the cherry's color, the other its sized.

"The color determines whether it's a commercial grade or non commercial grade," said Stewart Payne of GP Graders, the machine's maker. "A reject or a sellable product." 

If a cherry isn't rejected, its then sized-up by the second camera, and sent with cherries of equal size.

Historically, this was done by hand -- often with mistakes. Growers are paid the most for large cherries, but if a large one is mistakenly put with a smaller group, the grower is short changed, and loses money.

The new machine makes sure growers get credit for every large cherry, earning them more money.

Mark Holtzinger hopes by sorting cherries more accurately, and thus paying more to growers, they will flock to his packaging facility -- earning his company more money.