Highly trained growers trust their eyes and experience to decide how best to manage their crops. When plant performance is perceived to be at risk or behind schedule due to water stress or nutrient deficiencies, the decision may be made to irrigate or fertilize. When crop health is viewed as vulnerable, at times during the season when pest and disease pressures are highest, pesticides are sprayed. And to ensure performance is on target it may be decided to thin thereby achieving a specific level of plant performance, production quality and ultimately yield.
After every application, treatment or adjustment is completed the impacts of those activities are observed and the health and performance of the crop is reassessed. The new assessment leads to new decisions, planning, and the next round of crop management activities. This process is fundamental and is based on repetitive and routine visual health and performance assessments.
Visual assessments impact crop management decisions made during the season, but they also impact planning for harvest and post-harvest needs. Preparing for the resources needed in the future depends on assessing plant health and performance throughout the season.
If plant performance is high and the quantity of yield is anticipated to be above previous expectations, additional labor, shipping, storage, packaging, materials and other resources can be planned efficiently. Alternatively, if the quantity of yield is likely to be lower than previously perceived, contingencies can be arranged and additional tonnes can be sourced. And in both cases, the ability to alert sales channels and other stakeholders as early as possible more precisely on yield expectations helps to minimize costs and maximize revenue.
Routine visual health and performance assessments of as many plants as possible by highly trained individuals impact every aspect of specialty crop farming.