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  • Groundbreaking new tool for pistachio growers

    Sep 28th, 2018

    FRESNO, California - What's been considered a long-time problem for pistachio growers could be solved with a new calculator.

    The "Pistachio Predictor" is now online.

    Fresno State Plant Science Professor Gurreet Brar and Ag Engineer Shawn Ashkan are the researchers behind the project. They worked for two years to develop the tool. It gives pistachio growers an idea of how big their harvest will be.

    Professor Brar says predicting yield year-to-year has been a problem in the industry.

    "Pistachios are heavy alternate-bearing," Brar explained. "That means they bear heavily in one year and the next year the crop is very low, then the following year the crop is also high. Pistachios are also heavily dependent on chill accumulation. Winter time, low temperatures need to be there for the pistachios to bloom normally."

    The predictor takes those factors into consideration to give growers an idea of what to expect.

    "It identifies the pattern and uses machine learning principle to estimate the yield early in the season," Ashkan said.

    Ashkan says the tool is the first of its kind in crop agriculture. It's online and free to use.

    "It's very simple, its just takes a few minutes and they can predict the yield," Ashkan said.

    Harvest is now underway at the pistachio orchard at Fresno State. Orchard manager Robert Willmont says the tool will help with everything from marketing to day-to-day management.

    "It'll give me a good idea of what the future yield is going to be, then I can properly plan my fertility schedule," Willmont said.

    The project was funded through a grant from the State Dept of Food and Agriculture.