Here’s why drone insights are critical for citrus post-harvest

The post-harvest period for most citrus growers consists of operational planning and market strategizing. It is during this time that fertilizer application is critical to the outcome of the following year’s yield.

The reason for this is that during this period, crops are most responsive to the uptake of certain nutrients and root growth is at its peak. Growers should maximize this time by applying the right amount of fertilizer – but at the right time and place.

Here’s where drone technology becomes critical for determining exactly when and where to apply your fertilizer on your citrus farm. 

For most deciduous crops such as apples, peaches and almonds, having an image from above during the post-harvest period before leaf drop gives you an idea of tree reserves and carbohydrates.

However, non-deciduous crops such as citrus are a slightly different story as this crop is ‘evergreen’. 

So, why would you as a grower benefit from aerial imagery at this time?

As with deciduous crops, the evergreens are still prone to the stress of carrying heavy crop loads. Seeing to unhealthy trees during wintertime is vital for successful root growth and fertilization.

It is important to locate citrus trees under stress and divide the orchard into management zones for soil and leaf sampling. Once these samples have been taken, growers will have an overall view of their orchards’ nutrient status.

This will result in an equal playing field for all of the trees within an orchard. Not only does this enable the crops to be supplied with the right amount of nutrients, but it also allows the orchards to be zoned based on canopy area and tree volume.

You have located your citrus orchard zones. Now what?

The first step after you have located your citrus farm’s orchard zones is to take soil and leaf samples in the areas that allow for a representative and unbiased idea of nutrient status. This ultimately tells growers how much fertilizer their trees need.

At Aerobotics, we provide growers with per tree and zone insights and further separate growers’ farms into management zones based on individual tree health. This saves growers the hassle of identifying these management zones by themselves.

The Aeroview InField app (available for Android and iOS) offers a direct guide to underperforming trees and areas where findings can be documented. 

Management zones can be broken down into either three or five zones, from which the grower can choose which is the most suitable. Per tree health is only one of the metrics calculated by Aerobotics’ world-leading software.

Per canopy area, as well as per tree volume, allows growers to get an idea of the size of their trees. Zoning orchards based on tree size means that growers can alternate their pruning program and focus their pruning in selective areas.

Use the post-harvest period to get ahead

While the post-harvest period can provide growers with a little extra time to rest and catch up on tasks that took a backseat during the busy harvest season, it can also be the most important time of the year in terms of setting up next year’s yields for your citrus farm. This is especially true when growers are utilizing analytics and insights from drone imagery and are guided with the Aeroview app.

Now is the right time to take control of the next growing season by getting a real sense of this past season’s crop.

Request a demo with our Customer Team to see these insights in action. 


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