Variable rate on-the- go mid-season crop management is close to reality in Concord vineyards. Mechanical crop estimation and fruit thinning is an established management technique in many juice grape producing vineyards in New York. However, both crop estimation and thinning decisions are typically done on a whole block basis and do not take into account potential differences in vine growth and productivity across a vineyard. This season, our team used spatial soil and canopy maps to direct sub-block crop estimation sampling with the goal of identifying patterns in crop yield and improving crop estimation accuracy.
With a more accurate crop estimation map in hand, growers can take the next step in making decisions on how much crop they want to leave in each vineyard area. Using commercially available precision agriculture hardware and software, we developed spatial prescription maps to control the shaker head speed on a mechanical grape harvester and perform variable rate fruit thinning on-the- fly. Results of this technology application will be measured in the Fall when spatial yield maps will be generated with a grape yield monitor.
For more information on this project, visit our Current Research page.
By Terry Bates, Ph.D.