Food and Beverage Business
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California Prune producers harmonize modern technologies with traditional methods to cultivate their fruit

California Prune producers harmonize modern technologies with traditional methods to cultivate their fruit California, fruit production, heritage practices, Prune growers, Technologies Food and Beverage Business

California Prune growers are embracing technological advancements to enhance their agricultural practices and food safety standards, maintaining the state’s international reputation for excellence in this field. This includes investing in research and partnering with leading universities and experts to develop cost-effective practices to improve yield, quality, and sustainability.

According to Donn Zea, executive director for the California Prune Board (CPB), “California Prune growers have always been adaptable and innovative in their approach to dealing with challenges, whether that is drought, disease or pests.”

Collaborating with researchers from the University of California Cooperative Extension, growers are exploring irrigation methods to efficiently manage water in orchards. Technological advancements have enabled growers to monitor soil conditions through sensors and adjust irrigation schedules using a smartphone app.

With the use of drip irrigation and precise micro-irrigation systems, water consumption across 41,000 acres of plum trees has seen a 30-35 per cent reduction since the 1990s. Continued research and implementation of state-of-the-art sensors, data, and modelling aim to help growers make informed decisions around irrigation amount and timing.

In addition to water management, technologies are being explored to inform decisions around pruning, thinning, fertility management, orchard stress, and pest management. The industry has long been committed to research and investment into pest control techniques with minimal environmental impact, fruit thinning practices, and varietal selection programs.

The California Prune industry has also been proactive in labor management, food safety, and quality through the use of mechanization and automated drying techniques to ensure consistency and preserve fruit quality.

Once harvested, prunes are processed in high throughput optical sorters to minimize waste and ensure quality. Climate-controlled tunnels are used for precise dehydration, resulting in a high-quality product.

Beyond the orchards, data and weather patterns are analyzed to help forecast yield and optimize resource allocation. Predictive analytics are utilized to provide insights into the correlation between temperatures during bloom and fruit set.

As bloom approaches, growers are confident in their ability to maintain the industry’s high standards through innovation and generational techniques.

In conclusion, Donn emphasizes, “We grow, harvest, and process safely, responsibly, and sustainably to ensure California Prunes remain prized for their size, quality, and taste, setting the standard for discerning consumers worldwide.”

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