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New Technologies for precision horticulture

Resource-efficient horticultural production is supported by plant-individual data provided by modern IT. Optimal harvest timing in sweet cherries, for example, is based on balancing various biological and market-related factors. Calculating the fruit growth rate of sweet cherries, we use a simple analysis of fruit growth for a quantitative characterization of site- and cultivar-specific ripening pattern. Our developed CHERRY HARVEST SIZE App supports the inclusion of the according data into the every-day orchard management.

The CHERRY HARVEST SIZE App transforms the repeatedly measured size of cherries into its growth rate. The growth rate helps to decide on the harvest date: If the growth rate is still high - and the plant health allows it – leave the fruit at the tree targeting better market price. If the growth rate is reduced, pick as soon as possible to increase the shelf life of your crop.

More: The user measures the size of a bunch of cherry fruits and inserts the values into the App. The App calculates the mean growth rate showing the growth of the fruit diameter in millimeter per day [mm/day]. We consider a growth rate of 0.2 mm/day as marginal! Assuming that this growth rate would continue over the following days – the fruit would need another five days to increase their diameter by 1 mm only. This strongly reduced growth may not justify the risk of losing the fruit due to unfavorable conditions (weather or plant protection issues) in the orchard. Consequently, the growth rate provides some support, when deciding on the harvest date.
Additionally, the CHERRY HARVEST SIZE App classifies your fruits measured. You will immediately see the percentage of fruits according to size classes used in marketing. This pictured distribution of current fruit size classes may also help you to decide on size-selective harvest.

Please keep in mind, that the calculated values represent the real situation in your orchard the better the more fruits were measured. We recommend a sample size of 6 fruits from 10 trees (n=60) per cultivar measured twice a week starting 35-40 days after full bloom. If you sample a very large or very variable orchard you should even increase your sample size. This might sound like a lot of extra work but the insights obtained from this simple data acquisition may help to optimize your harvest management a lot.
If you want to share your experiences and data, the data of cherry size and your global position would be transferred to our cherry harvest project. Of course, you can keep your data privately on your phone – no global database is involved! Simply enjoy the benefit of new technology that does the calculations for you.

References:
Within the CHERRY HARVEST SIZE App icon, the two cherry icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by "Creative Commons BY 3.0"

For scientific use, please refer to this publication:
Seifert, B.; Zude, M.; Spinelli, L.; Torricelli, A. (2015): Optical properties of developing pip and stone fruit reveal underlying structural changes. Physiologia Plantarum. 153 (2): 327-336. Online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ppl.12232
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