How thinning impacts harvest, and one way to make it better

A customer success story of how Obsthof Ainser-Widemann farm used Farmable to pinpoint the impact of thinning on their harvest and farm revenues.

The Obsthof Ainser-Widemann farm is located in Lake Constance, Germany, and the area is characterized by mild temperatures with moderate gradients. It has a subtropical microclimate, which allows the cultivation of some exotic fruits and trees. Constance counts 2,069 sunshine hours a year and is considered one of the sunniest cities in Germany.

The Obsthof Ainser-Widemann farm is run by Dagobert Widemann, and their main crop is apples. During a farm visit by Max Bangen, Head of Product for Farm Management Software at Farmable, Dagobert explained how he had applied chemical thinning to a selected row in a field of apple trees of Gala variety.

Dagober Widemann - harvest apple in farm in lake constance using Farmable as farm management system
Dagobert Widemann

Dagobert uses the Farmable app to document spray activities on the farm and track chemical thinning with GPS tracking. The data collected with the farm management system will help him create the basis for future discussions with his advisors.

Thinning is essential for a good harvest

As every farmer knows, thinning in agriculture is an essential activity at the beginning of the season to regulate the size and volume of the harvest. It doesn't matter which part of the world you are located in. This is a job you must do at a certain point. Some fruit trees are able to self-regulate, but fruits like apples, pears, peaches, and more, require assistance yearly.  

There are three main methods to do thinning:

  • Manual: one of the most effective ways to eliminate the smallest fruits accurately, improving overall fruit quality and annual production. But it also requires a lot of time and effort.
  • Mechanical: allows you to thin large areas quickly and efficiently. However, with this method is difficult to have control over how much thinning is done to a specific field. Other risks are associated with this method, such as damaging the remaining fruits or leaving scars on trunks. 
  • Chemical: used to control the growth of individual branches. This method reduces plant density without damaging existing fruit or leaving scars on trunks. But as a side effect, if you use too high an application rate of chemicals, you risk destroying the entire crop.  

Besides choosing the thinning method that best fits your needs, all of them have one goal:

"To balance the amount of fruits on the trees, with the leaf surface that provides the energy to grow and ripen fruit. A good thinning job helps to maintain a healthy tree.”

Oregon State University - OSU extention service
Dagobert Widemann - apple farm in lake constance using Farmable as farm management system
Apple field - Obsthof Ainser-Widemann farm

Good balance between yield and quality

It's important to analyze the crop's Phenological stages and check the blooming status to make decisions regarding when harvesting. Several fruit advisory teams highlight thinning as one of the most important levers for a farm manager to control the harvest. That's why it is critical to have control over the impact of the different thinning methods and be able to review what application was implemented in the previous season. 

Once the season is over, only a few farm managers can recall when and what thinning activities they did in the previous seasons. After a season full of thousands of daily activities, it is difficult to remember what you did in a specific field a month ago. However, using a system early to document all activity information in real-time in the field makes the review process at the end of the season much easier and less stressful.

Obsthof Ainser-Widemann farm is run by Dagobert Widemann

Especially when we talk about chemical thinning, there are many essential details to remember:

  • the spray's timing, 
  • the application, and 
  • the concentration rate of the products. 

Having thinning application records and harvest results for each field from the previous season means better recommendations from advisors. Once they are able to visualize the spray's timing and combine the information you shared, it will help them create correlations between the activities done during the season and harvest results.

How Dagobert identified the problem

Dagobert is an active user of Farmable and used it last season to document treatment and application rates for his chemical thinning applications. He used our GPS tracking feature to keep track of the individual rows he sprayed. With all the data he collected during the season, he could review the chemical thinning records with advisors and look at harvest results in the field where he had applied chemical thinning. With our farm management platform, he created a solid record to go back to during the following seasons and make decisions on: 

  • The best thinning technique for his field;
  • How, where, and when to thin.

Max had the chance to look at that field and his thinning application. The rows with chemical thinning showed much less produce than other rows of the same field. But why?

On further investigation through Dagobert’s spray records, we were able to identify the problem - the application rate was too high. 

Since Dagobert has documented all the spray records of the thinning application as well as pictures from his blossom period, he was able to review his records and identify the cause for a weaker harvest for that field.

The result? Dagobert now has clear data for next year to adjust the application rate and hopefully have a much better harvest.

The one way to make it better.

The first step in resolving an issue is to find the causes. Documenting his daily field activities in Farmable means, he has a ready record at all times and can pinpoint causes with more accuracy than if he had relied solely on memory and notebooks. 

Keeping a record of thinning activities and sprays makes it easier to find reasons for weaker yields year over year and prepare better for the future. It helps you make better decisions for next year and creates a targeted discussion with advisors that can give you better solutions to improving the decision-making process. All of that can result in better harvest volumes and hence, better farm revenues year on year. 

"Now it is very easy to remember and review how thinning has impacted harvest results and yield."

Dagobert Widemann

    Tags: agtech, almonds, digital agriculture, digitalize farming, farm management, farming, harvest, Onboarding, orchard management, precision agriculture, profitability per field, Team building, teams & timesheets, thinning, timesheets, weather stations

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