Supply chains are intricate, highly technical systems that, inevitably, are full of predictable stressors – and those lovely surprise (!) issues, too. When it comes to fruit production, growers, pickers, shippers, and work crew managers must sprint against the time trials of the season, before, during, and after harvest. The season waits for no one, so how can fresh fruit supply chain hiccups be soothed, to boost profitability and limit waste?

By capturing all the relevant data, you let the insights do the heavy lifting. Tools like Croptracker’s Harvest Quality Vision and Quality Control module are just two key players in our full farm management ERP system that offer robust harvest evaluation, tracking, and reporting, making end-to-end coordination for growers and packers easier than ever.

Assessing fruit quality and quantity before the packhouse

Orchard managers must rely on hundreds of employees and temporary or contract laborers to perform the most important action of the year – identifying and picking fruit of the right size and color. Maintaining high standards for safety and quality is for the betterment of the crew, the business, and the consumer, and this comes from strong recordkeeping and data insight tools.


Ensuring product safety every step of the way

Croptracker’s ERP modules complement each other by threading detailed growing information together to show the larger seasonal picture. Avoid incidences of acute pesticide poisoning by using spray plans that log who is spraying and their applicator license information, the equipment used for protection during application, as well as the exact location of a treatment. Generate work orders on demand, and rely on Croptracker’s automatic calculation of the pre-harvest and re-entry intervals (PHI and REI) to ensure crew members are alerted if an attempt to log work in a treated area too soon.

Every input and application aims to achieve optimal growing conditions – so it only makes sense to have every production practice tracked and available for review from every angle. Understand the big picture to your operation’s advantage.

Maximizing production and harvest traceability for fruits

Strong traceability is critical to ensuring regional compliance is met when exporting, and so if something does go wrong, the point of causation can be isolated as quickly as possible.Global GAP certification requires farms to maintain identification and traceability documentation in a system that enables trace-back of its produce. Reporting tools like Croptracker’s Mock Recall Report lets users review how thorough their post-harvest tracking has been, through a trial run of a recall. Note where a harvested bin originated, who interacted with it, what spray applications have been used, and all its other data points from every point along the journey from packing, storage, and shipping out to retailers.

Reviewing traceability on a regular basis ensures your team is ready to implement a crisis management plan in the event of a real recall. Not only does adhering to GAP reporting standards mean entry to global markets with strict protocols, it boosts the overall need for your team to put quality and safety as top priorities at every point of interaction.


How do you calculate tree fruit yield?

Experienced estimators remain a key resource for orchards to get a sense of the season’s crop load, but there’s always room for improvement. Manual counting in apple orchards for example, can derive an average number of fruit per tree; from here, an estimation of fruit per acre can be calculated by multiplying fruit per tree by trees per acre.

According to Rich Marini, Professor of Horticulture at Penn State Extension, fruit thinning experiments involve extrapolating data from one to three limbs per tree to express crop density – but this method doesn’t really offer a good estimation, due to the variation of apples on one limb to another. Not to mention that the three-dimensional nature of a tree makes counting with two-dimensional human vision difficult.

That’s just one reason why Croptracker is currently in the development stage of its upcoming tool, Crop Load Vision. An expansion of the computer vision technology Harvest Quality Vision, Croptracker has partnered with leading agricultural experts and local growers to accelerate testing and roll-out of this exciting product.

Croptracker’s Crop Load Vision will enable users to:

  • Identify and count fruit on the tree
  • Obtain a large sample set with just a mobile device, and
  • Pinpoint the most optimal harvest date with straightforward data insights
For more details on our current partnerships and goals of this feature expansion, see our press release.

Streamline accurate grower payouts

Assessing payouts runs the risk of taking too long. If your receiving crew has a backlog of truckloads to review in the hot sun, some of the drivers in line may just decide to move along to the next potential buyer in the area. There's no time to waste once fruit has left the tree branch.

Getting pre-sorting data in a quick turnaround time helps pay out the growers faster. Determine grower payouts by calculating the rate of pay owed, using empirical data from a fruit sorting machine. Or, take an HQV scan that offers a statistically relevant view into the distribution of a lot. Reliable sample data from incoming bin lots speeds up quality assurance processes with fewer staff and high accuracy.

Human on iPad

Capture harvest sample data, and access it on-demand

Ideal for HQV clients who are already capturing quality assurance related data points like size and color, the QC module lets users enter destructive testing data (pressure, internal defects, etc.) in an easily accessible format for reporting alongside HQV data. The strength of this module is not only its ability to integrate with the rest of the Croptracker ERP; but also the versatility of the QC templates that offer the capacity to create relevant evaluation forms for the QC sample table (and beyond!).

Improve internal communication across teams that are spread out across functional roles and locations, with centralized cloud-stored recordkeeping and scanning data. Access sample results as soon as possible to course correct pickers and transport crews.

apples in bin

Optimize storage use by vetting the highest quality fruit

Prioritize the best of the best along with grouping like fruit together. Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage is expensive to create and maintain, so it’s important to maximize every space to make the most of it. Presorting offers the opportunity to make sharper choices on the order of what goes into each room, so when it’s time to open a sealed area for packing out, the right fruit is available exactly when you need it.

Vetting the highest quality fruit to go into CA storage saves the trouble of sneaky defects taking up room (and causing other issues!) that could have gone to prime, high value fruit. The cost of placing fruit into storage is high. Once the seal on a storage unit is broken, the fruit will begin to ripen almost immediately, greatly reducing their shelf life. When the contents of a storage unit are unknown, growers are faced with the expensive decision of which unit to open, at the risk of opening the wrong unit and wasting valuable inventory. Robust qualitative data from bin samples available to packhouse crews means no one needs to tackle door samples or seal breaks with masked eyes.

Ontario tender fruit industry’s movement to modernize

Remaining competitive means obtaining granular data quickly, and at scale. Published 2015 in collaboration with The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience and the MaRS Solutions Lab, The Ontario Tender Fruit Lab documented and addressed regional supply chain challenges, offering a technologically-focused path forward. Intensified competition with imports and between large retailers led to exploring how the Ontario tender fruit industry could pivot and modernize its methods. This period of research pinpointed the environmental, technical, cultural, and social trends that can inform building more economic resilience. Quality, quantity, time, and cost are unsurprising factors for growers and packhouses, but refining observational data across these metrics enabled understanding how these elements interact and affect the value chain, and help identify opportunities for change.

Since that report was released, Ontario tender fruit growers like the Tregunno family have taken the opportunity to innovate and run with it. The province’s largest peach grower opted to build a 225 foot-long building to implement a straight line packhouse system, complete with a Compac Spectrum vision system. With sizer software, they can handle up to 11 different configurations of packaging, compared to five types previously. The system has been designed ergonomically so that there is no lifting of a container that is more than 25 pounds. With this among other updates to the Tregunno Farms’ packhouse, they can better ensure consistently high quality fruit for discerning retailers, and offer a competitive local supply.


Track and organize packhouse storage for the best shipping outcomes

With a packline prepped in advance, there’s greater opportunity for an efficient packout. Knowing what’s about to come down the line optimizes the throughput and operational flow and protects the quality of the fruit. Obtaining greater sample size data with HQV bin scans provides opportunities to refine packing staffing numbers. The ideal drops can be set up for arranging fruit appropriately for its destination, with fewer interruptions for course correction.

Outgoing fruit needs to be prioritized by the attributes of its accompanied data, enabling appropriate packing, such as:

The sooner the right fruit is packed for outbound delivery, the higher the success rate in achieving the best pricing per unit. There’s no room for mistakes once it’s out of the packhouse, and onto the truck, so boost buyer confidence with solid retrospective reporting that walks all stakeholders through everything they need to know, from bloom to table.

Croptracker develops agtech solutions for industry leaders. Our mission is to make crop production safer, more efficient, and more profitable. Designed with fresh market producers and distributors in mind, every tool we create is based on direct industry feedback.

Croptracker’s award-winning farm software optimizes recordkeeping, labor tracking, production and cost management. Our integrative Harvest Quality Vision technology offers instant empirical analysis of crop samples exactly when you need it. Talk to our team to have your questions answered by booking a demo.