Due to the high temperatures, apple blossoms developed early this year, according to Jan Flemming Jensen of Kiviks Musteri. If there’s now a period of night frost, it could result in major losses and a bad harvest. The buds can handle up to five degrees of frost, but as soon as it develops into blossom, temperatures have to remain above zero.
Tens of thousands of apples carpet the floor of an orchard in Clonmel, County Tipperary in Ireland after Storm Ophelia blew the fruit from their trees. Picking apples can be a painstaking job lasting several weeks. But at this orchard, nature has done the farmers’ work for them in one night. Tens of thousands of the fruit were blown from the trees by a devastating storm. But as luck would have it, the windfalls did not end up bruised and useless – because the orchard was flooded as a result of the bad weather.
Over two centuries, little has changed in the way apples are harvested; by and large, it is still a manual process. But now, SRI Ventures, a kind of startup incubator within the Menlo Park research and development firm SRI International, is investing in and spinning out a startup called Abundant Robotics Inc. to automate apple harvesting with agricultural robots currently in development. The robots, as yet unnamed, were designed to be strong and fast enough to remove one fruit per second from a tree, but gentle enough not to damage trees or the fruit, according to Abundant Robotics’ CEO and co-founder Dan Steere.
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