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UF Researchers Help Citrus Growers Predict Early Crop Yields

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A University of Florida professor’s research could revolutionize Florida’s $9-billion citrus industry.

Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee, a UF agricultural and biological engineering professor, developed a process that could allow citrus growers to more accurately estimate the size of their crop before harvest. This process was recently published in the journal of “Biosystems Engineering.”

Lee said his research team can estimate with about 80 percent accuracy how much citrus fruit trees will produce using an algorithm that determines fruit yield based on the number of fruit found in photos taken throughout the grove.

About 30 percent of citrus production cost is accounted for during harvesting, according to a UF press release. With Lee’s new system, farmers may be able to plan the optimal harvesting time much sooner than before.

Traditionally, growers determined crop yield based on the number of boxes their mature trees have produced in the past. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture produces monthly crop yield estimates based on examining tree sizes at locations around the state and gauging the number of fruit each branch is expected to yield.

Lee’s method would allow growers to determine parts of their groves that are under-performing, which could help growers make necessary changes.

“Hopefully, we can develop real-time ongoing systems that growers can use to increase yield and their profit,” Lee said.

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