The project is developing profitable management strategies for Summerfruit growers associated with temporal and spatial variation in crop load and fruit quality (fruit number per tree, fruit size).

New commercial sensing technologies to provide data of canopy, flower and fruit metrics at the tree-scale.
Precision fruit thinning for more uniform fruit maturity, improved fruit quality (size, colour), increased return bloom, improved orchard efficiency such as labour, and less product waste.
Cartographer in summerfruit orchard Cartographer™ in the Precision Summerfruit Orchard

The objectives of this project are to:

- Develop and test profitable spatial and temporal crop load and pruning management strategies that maximise quality for summerfruit consumers.

- Investigate spatial thinning using chemical, mechanical and hand thinning techniques.

- Provide data on the spatial variability of fruit number, size and colour and tree size of the summerfruit industry’s production systems.

The intended outcome of this project is to increase the profitability, efficiency, and sustainability of the Australian Summerfruit industry through:

  • Uniform orchards that are labour efficient.
  • Orchards that are more resilient to climate variability and weather extremes.
  • User friendly, purposeful solutions for summerfruit orchard management.
  • Identification of technologies that will drive improvements in product supply and quality,.
  • Strategies to improve fruit quality (e.g., size, colour) for summerfruit consumers.
Summerfruit trees on Tatura trellis 2024 Summerfruit trees on Tatura Trellis at the Precision Summerfruit Orchard, Tatura SmartFarm

The project aims to increase profitability, efficiency and sustainability for the summerfruit industry through innovative research and development, with the aim to enhance domestic and international market access, increase potential exports, provide sustainable production practices that optimise orchard systems and labour efficiencies, increase crop uniformity, accelerate adoption of sensor technologies, and provide a clean and green recognition by importers and consumers.

This research investigates precision management of summerfruit crops to overcome production issues associated with temporal and spatial variation in crop load and fruit quality and tree vigour. The project will initiate new research on establishing block-specific relationships between fruit number, tree size and fruit size. Experiments will be undertaken to evaluate strategies to spatially thin fruit and flowers so that growers are better able to target optimal crop loads and stabilise high levels of marketable yield. Management options for spatial thinning will also be a focus comparing manual thinning, chemical thinners and the Darwin flower thinner. Colour development through spatial pruning strategies (e.g., dividing a block into similar vigour zones and hence pruning at different times) will be researched, and associated financial benefits and costs will be investigated.

New commercial sensing technologies provide data of canopy, flower and fruit metrics at the tree-scale. These sensors provide the grower with real-time orchard-specific spatial maps to improve management such as orchard thinning and pruning operations and provide packout yield forecasts. Spatial data from such sensing technologies can potentially be automatically used by variable rate spraying and blossom thinning machinery for customised spatial ‘zonal’ (within-block, row- and tree-scale) management practices.

Burro and Cartographer Burro and Cartographer™

Image: Burros are electric self-driving platform robots that can carry and tow, they are designed to work with people and optimise productivity on farms. The Cartographer™ is a mobile sensorised platform equipped with high-resolution imaging sensors, 3D LiDAR, GPS and infrared temperature sensors.


Dr Mark O’Connell

Dr Alessio Scalisi

Project refence group

A project refence group (PRG) will be used to provide advice and feedback. These are summerfruit growers and technical representatives from:

Summer fruit Australia limited (SAL)

Fruit Growers Victoria (FGV)

Hort Innovation (HIA)


The project Precision summerfruit orchards (SF23000) is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Summerfruit Fund.

Hort Innovation Summerfruit Fund Logo

This project Precision summerfruit orchards (SF23000) has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the Summerfruit research and development levy, contributions from the Australian Government and co-investment from Agriculture Victoria. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.

Agriculture Victoria logo