Offering flexible financial solutions for growers, such as the Citrus Grove Conversion Program, we’re not unfamiliar with thinking outside the box.  Managing a citrus grove is no simple task. It requires ingenuity and forward-thinking, which is why a new UF/IFAS study caught our attention; it may soon help citrus growers to better manage their groves, and save money in the process. The study focuses on an improved method for detecting immature citrus trees using a consumer-grade digital camera and algorithm.

Citrus Growers’ Needs

Citrus growers try to gauge the needs of their groves using yield forecasts. These forecasts help growers determine factors such as the amount of labor needed to pick the fruit, when fertilizer should be added and in what quantities, and water usage.

The more accurate these forecasts are early on in the growing season, the better citrus growers can plan for the grove. Better planning results in increased yields, lower labor costs, and lower costs for inputs like fertilizer.

New Method for Forecasting

The new method improves forecasts and is able to determine site-specific growth conditions early in the season. According to a news release on the study, which is printed in the journal Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, researchers were able to detect immature citrus trees 83 percent of the time. They used pictures from a digital camera and created an algorithm based on the color of the trees’ leaves to determine the maturity of the fruit.

Knowing at which point certain citrus trees are in their growth cycle is important for knowing when to apply nutrients, when to plan for pickers to arrive, and deciding how much to water to use. The process, called yield-mapping, lets grove managers know where each tree is in the growth cycle and helps pinpoint spots where there may be problems, such as disease or equipment malfunctioning, due to anomalies in the growth cycle. Researchers believe the camera and algorithm could save citrus growers a significant portion of money spent on inputs and labor.

As the ag land lending specialists, we understand the benefits offered by agricultural research, especially for Florida’s citrus growers. We make it our business to help the nation’s citrus farmers and can qualify you when traditional lenders won’t. We offer interest-only payments for up to 10 years, cash for conversion, and no prepayment penalties.