Fruits' size and Brix are key components that will determine how successful was the season. In Washington, apple growers are about to enter harvest, which means the coming weeks represent a window of opportunity to affect fruits' size before apples will be picked.
How to affect fruit size?
Fruits' size is largely influenced by water and the way sugars and other nutrients are being transported from the roots to other parts of the tree. Consequently, changing irrigation quantity, frequency or duration has a direct affect on size. Generally speaking, Gala and Pink lady varieties growers look for a bigger size fruit whereas Honey crisp and Cosmic crisp growers look for a smaller size. This season, Gala growers in Washington had a real challenge to reach their (large) target size, but as you can see in one of the screen-shots below, our growers were not flying blind.
By monitoring trees' growth, fruit size and actual irrigation at the end of the drip-line, Phytech provides the enhanced visibility of their plants' status. A "Fruit-size -navigator" to help them guide their fruits to their "size destination", determined at the onset of the season, by the customer.
Right before harvest growers can still "play" with irrigation either to "push" more sugar from the trunk to the fruit, at the expanse of tree growth, or reduce irrigation if the fruit is too big.
From intuition to a controlled experiment
Getting real-time feedback of how tree growth and fruit's size respond to to water delivery is a game changer, turning this challenging (mostly intuitive-based) process into a controlled experiment done by each grower in each block. The result is not only higher quality yields but a better understanding of how to optimize production and transform into plant-based farming practices
Here are some screen-shots from Phytech's app that demonstrate how we're "translating" the trees' hidden needs and condition into an easy to work with visual map.