New tech helps picks fruit

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Jlye

Ontario’s tender fruit and apple growers have joined forces with an Ontairo based agtech company to further develop its smartphone-powered computer vision system for Ontario tree fruit.

Ontario Tender Fruit and Ontario Apple Growers are working with Kingston-based Croptracker to expand their Harvest Quality Vision, or HQV, system with new crop load and defect detection tools.

These enhancements will enable scanning of both harvested and unharvested fruit to identify possible defects.

“An enhanced Harvest Quality Vision system will help growers have more consistent, higher quality fruit and less reliance on manual processes,” says Ontario Tender Fruit Growers Chair Phil Tregunno. “For many growers, labour represents the biggest share of their cost of production and adding automation will help offset some of those costs.”

As well, growers will be able to scan fruit growing in their orchards early in the growing season to determine size and colour accuracy, which will greatly improve the accuracy of yield and harvest timing predictions.

Harvest Quality Vision uses artificial intelligence to determine fruit size, colour and crop load. Growers are automatically alerted if it finds deviations from any acceptable standards.

“This smart technology will let us respond more quickly to crop load problems, quality defects or disease issues not just before harvested fruit is packed, but also even while the crop is still growing in the orchard,” adds Ontario Apple Growers Vice Chair Brian Rideout. “It’s another tool for growers to ensure we’re producing and delivering the best quality local fruit for consumers.”

Not only does this eliminate time-consuming manual inspection of harvested fruit, but it also lets growers and field/orchard managers respond to crop load issues, quality defects or disease issues before the fruit is packed.

The Ontario Apple Growers represents the province’s 215 commercial apple farmers.