U.S. orchard entrepreneurs have already learned how to predict fruit diseases through the use of advanced technology, and are now in the process of implementing a system to accurately predict fruit size.
"A lot of our focus is on strategic forecasting of market dynamics in 10 years. This helps us understand what technology needs to be used to grow fruit in the most efficient way possible to meet expected consumer demand," notes Bob Mast, president of CMI Orchards.
A big focus in the production process is to incorporate innovative methods to increase productivity.
For example, the orchards use software to monitor soil moisture levels at various heights.
The digital monitoring system provides real-time information on temperature, soil moisture, and wind speed to employees' cell phones. This data helps keep track of optimal fruit size and predict fruit disease, thereby increasing the possibility of avoiding orchard waste.
A current innovation at the company is the launch of a new packing system.
"We are able to sort and evaluate optically each fruit by photographing it from several angles, which allows us to analyze the quality and maturity of the berries," the company explains.
The Americans have also successfully implemented other innovative developments. For instance, robots are used at the packing stations to place fruits in trays after sorting.
The orchard's produce now arrives for sale in packaged form.Due to expected growth in consumer demand for packaged fruit, the company has upgraded its packaging systems as well. An automated bagging system weighs, labels and seals the fruit to minimize human intervention, thus preserving the pristine appearance of the fruit before sale.
Special attention is also paid to the proper storage of finished products. The warehouses use an ozonation system to help store the fruit properly and for longer.
The company's management is currently looking for ways to improve the quality control process and is considering introducing technology that will allow even better prediction of fruit size and variety. In addition, a new palletizing system is in the process of being implemented to ensure efficient placement and storage of the fruit.