There are many different groups studying citrus greening, but there’s still a lot about the disease that is unknown. For instance, researchers don’t know why fruit is dropping prematurely in groves all over Florida, which is followed by citrus decay. A published study by UF/IFAS researchers offers a new tool in trying to unravel the causes behind fruit drop. Study co-author, Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said researchers don’t know if “factors such as temperature, wind, humidity, rainfall, citrus greening or other factors” are causing or exacerbating fruit drop.

Lee and his team have developed a method for estimating fruit drop across wide areas of citrus groves with superior accuracy. It involves a camera and an algorithm that detects fruit drop in photos taken by that camera. Growers can scan multiple acres at one time, and the algorithm will then detect the location in the grove and tally the amount of dropped fruit. Testing the algorithm at a citrus grove in Immokalee showed that it offered improved accuracy over other methods for measuring fruit decay.

Researchers envision citrus growers using the new method to compile data to create a fruit-drop map. This can allow growers to tailor citrus management strategies for the locations that show increased amounts of fruit drop and citrus decay. Growers could use the information to change fertilization schedules, irrigation and citrus greening treatments with a focus on stopping citrus greening. Researchers also believe the new method could be incorporated into a real-time system.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.