Over 7000 ha of broccoli are grown in the UK each year, worth £180m at retail. However, predicting harvest profiles of broccoli crops is notoriously difficult as the spears are only visible above the leaf canopy around 2 weeks before maturity. There are also no robust, accurate crop forecasting systems commercially available.
Environmental conditions affect crop maturity, resulting in large gluts and shortages. As a result, growers overplant by 15-40% to ensure continuity of supply.
This Ceres funded project will enable the development of a state-of-the-art crop forecasting model that will provide growers with predictions for the timing of harvest and yield estimates for their broccoli crops via a user-friendly, digital system.
This decision support system will have significant benefits for the industry by reducing the reliance on overplanting, allow optimised harvest planning and labour scheduling. It will also help to reduce food waste through better crop utilisation.