The mechanical harvesting of fresh market tomatoes project was undertaken on behalf of the Bowen Horticultural Automation Group during 1996. The project aimed to re-examine the potential for harvesting fresh market tomatoes by machine. The group had identified tomato/vine separation as the major factor in preventing the development of a mechanical harvester and research efforts were directed at this problem. The project examined seven methods of tomato/vine separation based on the concepts of shaking, stripping and viscous drag. Forces required to separate the tomato from the vine at different angles were measured and the bruising and puncture resistance of two different tomato varieties was examined.