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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Improving the Fruit Quality of Pennsylvania Apples with Precision Pruning

Location: Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory

Project Number: 8080-21000-024-01
Project Type: Nonfunded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 01, 2014
End Date: Aug 30, 2014

Objective:
The horticultural goal of these studies is to evaluate the effects of pruning severity and pruning rule complexity on growth, light distribution, and fruiting of apple trees. The objectives are: 1) to evaluate the effects of three levels of pruning severity, with and without dividing the cuts into three canopy segments, on growth, fruit set, canopy light distribution, crop load, yield, fruit size distribution, fruit maturity and fruit quality of 'Buckeye Gala'/M.9 apple trees and 2) to evaluate the effects of four levels of pruning rule complexity on growth, fruit set, canopy light distribution, crop load, yield, fruit size distribution, fruit maturity and fruit quality of 'Golden Delicious'/Bud.9 and 'Brak fuji'/M.9 apple trees. The engineering goal is to evaluate a 3D imaging decision system for future automated pruning of apple trees. The engineering team will convert a tree/branch structure imaging system developed in a laboratory to an outdoor-ready version suitable for evaluation in commercial orchards.

Approach:
This study will be conducted on nine-year-old ‘Golden Delicious’/Bud.9 apple trees growing in the field at FREC. Trees will receive four levels of pruning rule complexity. Horticultural factors such as light distribution within the canopy, yield, average fruit size, and fruit quality will be measured. The engineering strategy will be to convert the multi-camera setup in the laboratory to a mobile robotic system to be tested in the field. A mobile platform will be constructed including a power conditioner, engine parts and high quality, and large-sized sensor cameras. Images and models of trees from the orchard will be compared to those obtained from the indoor system.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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