Crop Estimation at 30 Days After Bloom in Concord Grapes – LERGP Podcast #77

Hi, my name is Terry Bates. I am the
director of the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension lab, and also the
project leader on our Efficient Vineyard project. And today it’s 30 days after
bloom 2018. It is when we do our crop estimation in our Concord vineyards. So
for about 25 years we’ve been doing destructive mechanical crop estimation
in Concord vineyards. We’ve been doing formal research on this for about 20
years. And really what it comes down to is we partner with our growers in the
area, like the Betts here, and we use their machines where we sample the vineyard.
And we have different sampling protocols one of which is laying out a rope that
is about 1% of an acre. And we actually clean pick that 1% of an acre in the middle
of the season. We collect all that fruit and weigh it. And then we project out
what the final weight is going to be. So we basically subsample throughout the
vineyard and then project what the final harvest weight is going to be. And that
method has been fairly well adopted and and it’s pretty good. And I like to say
that it’s accurate. It’ll tell a grower do I have five six tons per acre?
Do I have eight nine tons per acre? Do I have eleven twelve tons per acre? It
doesn’t tell you the difference between eight and 8.2 tons per acre. But knowing
whether I have five, eight, or twelve tons per acre gives me a management
decision on looking at the growing season, can I ripen that much crop? And
what do I do with it? And if I have too much crop for the vine health
and the growing season, I can shake some of that fruit off and do fruit thinning
with a machine to get that crop in balance with the vine so that we have
high-quality fruit at the end of the season. Ok so where does that leave us
with the Efficient Vineyard Project, is we want to become more accurate at crop
prediction, which is knowing what the crop is right now in the season, and then
crop estimation knowing what our final harvest weight is going to be. And really
there’s two activities we’re working on. 1: We’re using spatial data to stratify
our samples throughout the vineyard to have a more accurate crop prediction. So
I’m using spatial soil data, spatial canopy growth data, and
and spatial yield data – like last year’s yield data map, to stratify samples this
season – mid season, so I can make a prediction on what the crop is right now.
Just get better at sampling throughout the vineyard to understand what the
pattern is and move forward. And the second thing is (2:) If I know what the crop
is right now in the season, how that grows and projects out to harvest weight
has to do with how the berries grow the rest of the season. So the other thing
we’re doing is modeling berry weight. So we look at like weather conditions and
rainfall and we try to project out how those berries are going to grow and what
their final berry weight is going to be so we can take our crop prediction now
in the middle of season and be accurate with our crop estimate at the end of the
season. The goal, you know the gold standard everybody wants in the industry,
is to be within 5% of what the actual harvest weight is. So we’d like to right
now be able to predict within 5% what the harvest weight is going to be. And
that would help the Betts know how much crop I have, do I have to do any thinning, how
many loads do I need to schedule, what’s going to be the timing at harvest? It
also helps the industry-wide. It helps the processors – they get an understanding
of when harvest dates are going to be, how much crop is out there, how much tank
space they’re gonna need, maybe how many forklift drivers they’re getting. So it kind
of multiplies out in terms of economic benefit. Understanding and
knowing, being more accurate at crop prediction and then crop estimation at
the end of the season. And that’s what we’re trying to get at in our project. So
that’s it for now we’ll get back to doing some crop estimation. And if you
have any questions leave them below. Thanks.

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