Anyone in agriculture quickly realizes that every season is slightly different and what shows up as the major challenges and successes of last year might not be the same for this year. Successful growing is all about minimizing the surprises by trying to understand what has happened in the past, what is happening around you now and what that might mean for the future.
The Metrics area of OrchardNet® is used to collect key performance indicators for the orchard across different seasons. In time this can provide valuable feedback to predict what might happen on your orchard in the future. This information can be used to fine tune the orchard management plans.
Who is it for?
Not all information will be critical for all growers or even all of the blocks that a grower manages. Each grower only collects the data they believe will be useful for their individual situation.
In other crops we are able to show historical seasons that are tracking a bit like the current season and what happened in that year as well as the year after.
What can I collect and what can it be used for?
- TCA – this stands for Trunk Cross-sectional Area and is quite useful in understanding optimum crop load requirements in establishing orchards. If TCA is growing slowly crop loads are potentially too high and the time line to fully establish tree canopy development is increased. If TCA is growing rapidly the canopy is generally being developed quickly but the actual crop being produced during this time of development tends to be much lower.
- TRV – Tree Row Volume – This is a measure of the tree row volume in m³ of canopy per ha. The higher the TRV the higher the potential for yield – assuming that the branch density/light penetration is correct throughout the canopy.
- % of Full Canopy – As the name suggests this is the % of the actual canopy size compared to a theoretical full canopy. This is closely related to the TRV and can be used to help develop the sweet spot between canopy development, maximized production and quality light penetration.
- Buds required per fruit – This is the ratio of winter buds that produce actual fruit numbers in spring. It is used in the first cut of crop estimation from a block and is likely to be used by very hands on growers looking for fine tuning their winter pruning program, especially on developing trees.
- Flowers per fruit – This number is looking at the total number of flowers (as a %) that are required to actually set into a harvested fruit. Again this number can be used for fine tuning crop estimation information.
- Mummy % – This is the % of total fruit that do not get removed at harvest time and stay on the tree. This information can be used for fine tuning crop estimates and predicting year to year pest and disease pressure from issues such as Carob Moth and Brown Rot.
- Beehives per ha – This info can be used to optimize pollination requirements and results in almond orchards, by comparing the different results achieved in different growing seasons and with different hive numbers / variety overlap within orchards.
- Dates – All of the key date information can be used to try to understand how each individual season compares with other years. This info can be used for a raft of management decisions including helping to plan spray application timings and harvest management decisions (shake dates, freight, hulling and shelling, processing…)
- Dry Matter (Mid-Season & Pre-Shake) – This can be helpful to measure nut sizing during the season as an indicator of irrigation stress (small kernel) and overall nut quality at harvest (pinching).
- Winter Estimates (Kernel kg/ha, Crackout%, Kernel Size) – This is used to help with your initial production estimation in winter time. As the season progresses and more information comes to light production estimates can be changed. These fields save your initial winter predictions to allow for greater prediction accuracy in the future.
In the next article we’ll take a look at harvest data collection and how it’s not as difficult as it may seem.