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Cherries: Harvest 2-4 weeks earlier, up to 140% increase in yield, with larger sizes and a BIG CRUNCH!
 
Payback can be only 3-4 harvests for premium varieties or early harvests when using automatic retractable orchard covering systems
 
It was 8 years ago that Cravo and Dr Greg Lang from Michigan State University partnered to install an automated retractable roof overtop of a cherry orchard in order to learn how the profitability of cherry production could be positively impacted by optimizing the climate and protecting from weather extremes.
Fast forward to 2020 and there are now installations over cherries on 4 continents which are helping to answer many of the questions concerning how revenues and the return on investment could be impacted by using automated orchard covers.  The following is a list of the common questions that growers wanted answered along with the results of what has been achieved to help answer these questions.
 
1.   Could the first harvest be advanced by one year compared to outdoor production?   
•  Yes.  First harvest occurred in some varieties at Reid Fruits in Tasmania after 2.2 years.
 
Discussion of cherry development under a retractable roof orchard cover, Reid Fruits, Jan 9, 2019   Click here to view English Video
Spanish voice over
Desarrollo de la cereza bajo una cubierta de huerto de techo retráctil, Reid Fruits, enero 2019   Haga clic aquí para ver el video en español
  Video_cherry development
 
 
 
2.   Could the flowering and harvest be advanced 2 to 4 weeks to achieve better prices?  
 Flowering and harvest was advanced 15 days earlier in low light areas like Michigan  Click here to view English Video   Video_advance 15 days earlier
     
Comparing cherry development with no protection, under a rain shelter and a retractable roof at MSU on June 23, 2014  Click Here to view English Video   Video_Comparing
 
Pictures taken at Michigan State University May 1, 2014
In open field   Under the retractable orchard covering system
Michigan State 2014   Michigan State 2014 inside
     
 
Flowering and harvest was advanced 3 weeks in the high light areas like at Clyde Orchards in New Zealand but they believe 4 weeks earlier is possible.  Click here for article in English publication
  Editorial_Cravo
 
Pictures taken October 11, 2019 at Clyde Orchards, Clyde, New Zealand
In open field
  Under the retractable orchard covering system
ClydeOrchards_NZ   ClydeOrchards_NZ_under
     
 
 
3.   What is the impact of the retractable roof on:
  • Total yield?
  • Fruit size and firmness (since conventional rain shelters tend to cause an increase in fruit size and a reduction in fruit firmness?
  • Packout %        
    - Fruit sizes at Reid Fruits in Tasmania increased an average of 2mm and fruit was extremely firm even during hot conditions.
    - Pack out under the retractable roof has been 95%-98% simply from protecting the fruit from adverse weather conditions
 
Pictures taken at Reid Fruits, Tasmania, January 20, 2020
Under Bird Net   Under retractable roof
     
Cherries under rain net   Abundant Cherries
Average 2 mm larger under retractable
Ried Fruits Taz   Ried Fruits Taz_2020
Splitting of cherries occurred under bird net
Reid Farms_Rain Splits   Ried Fruit Taz_cluster
No loss due to hail or wind scarring under retractable
Hail Marks in cherry    Cherry Sizes in hand
 
Over 100% increase in cherries in Automated Orchard Cover, MSU, May 27,2014
  Click Here to view video
  Video_100 increase
     
Discussion on why Korida cherries yielded 17 tons/ hectare under a retractable roof, Reid Fruits (Trees developing more flowers,   better pollination, larger sizes and 95%-98% packout.)
  Click here to view video
  Video_Discussion
     
  Kordia and Regina cherries yield 10T per hectare LOWER under bird netting than retractable roof  Click here to view video   Video_2 types of cherries
 
 
 
4.  Could the retractable covering be used during the harvest to help maintain fruit firmness and fruit size while extending the harvest window
  • Yes.   When trees are exposed to direct sunlight during the harvest, the excessive transpiration and fruit temperatures cause trees to experience water stress causing fruit to lose it’s firmness.  Closing the roof 85%-90% will help reduce the leaf and fruit temperatures helping too drastically reduce the transpiration rate.  This helps increase fruit size, maintain fruit firmness and allows pickers to harvest for more hours in the day.
 
Temperatures taken January 16, 2019 at Reid Fruits, Tasmania
Fruit temperature in direct sun   Fruit temperature under the retractable covering
Reid Fruits Taz_Tempurature sun   Reid Fruits Taz_Tempurature shade
 
  Cherry trees in Curico Chile showing signs of excessive water stress close to harvest, November 6, 2019  Click here to watch video   Video_Curico Chile
     
  Como la temperatura y firmesa de las cerezas cambia cuando se encuentran bajo la luz directa del sol  Haga clic aquí para ver el video en español   Video_temperature
     
  Las diferencias de Temperaturas de un árbol de Cerezos que afectan al acumulación de horas frio  Haga clic aquí para ver el video en español   Video_Differences_spanish
 
 
 
5.     Can a lower cost flat roof house make financial sense for cherry orchards?
  • Yes.  The retractable flat roof house is approximately 50% less expensive per hectare than the peaked roof house and is easier to install over existing orchards.  The increase in yields that have been achieved are a result of creating superior conditions through the stages of chill hour accumulation, pollination, cell division, cell expansion, ripening and post-harvest tree recovery.  All of these can be achieved with both a retractable flat roof and a peaked roof.  The primary advantage of the peaked roof is that it protect the trees from rain fall which can be a benefit when trying to warm up the tree in the spring and obviously during harvest.  However, if cracking is not a problem, then a flat roof house is perfect!  However if cracking is a major risk but rain events are infrequent, then it would be advantageous to use a retractable flat roof in combination with a traditional rain shelter.  In this situation, the rain shelter would only be closed if rain is forecast during the critical period instead of covering the trees for several months which would help prevent the problems of pollination, abortion and soft fruit which is typical under a rain shelter.
 
Flat Roof Open   Flat Roof_Closing
 
  30% fruit abortion 4 weeks after pollination on Lapins caused by Chilean rain shelter
  Click here to watch the English video
  Video_30% Fruit abortion
     
  Por que las coberturas de Lluvia fijas causan un 30% de aborto de fruta en Lapins con porta injerto  Haga clic aquí para ver el video en español   Video_Spanish 30% abortion
     
  Determinando por qué algunos árboles de Cerezos bajo cubierta fija de lluvia, tiene 30% de aborto de fruta un mes después de la Floración  Haga clic aquí para ver el video en español   Video_Spanish Determining
 
 
6.   Is there a financial model for helping to calculate the potential return on investment?
  •  Yes.  Please contact your Cravo representative to receive a copy
Cherries 2

Cherries 2  Cherry 2 Videos

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Automatically protecting cherries from rain right before harvest using a Cravo

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Discussion on why Korida cherries yielded 17 tons per hectare

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17 tons per hectare of Kordia cherries under Cravo retractable roof

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Kordia and Regina cherries yield 10T per hectare LOWER under bird netting than retractable roof

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Cherry orchard layouts and pruning systems when using automated orchard covers

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Technical discussion with Dr Greg Lang on cherry development and pruning techniques under covers

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Cherry development under different covers at MSU, June 23, 2014

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Discussion by Dr Greg Lang of cherries in retractable roof house, June 14, 2013

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Over 100% increase in cherries in Automated Orchard Cover, MSU, May 27,2014

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Cherries in a retractable roof production system, Voen rain shelter and open field, June 12, 2013

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Update on cherry development in retractable roof house, rain shelter, and open field

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Dr Greg Lang update on the Cherry trials under protective covering systems at MSU, April 29, 2017

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Discussion of cherries under an automated retractable orchard cover, Reid Fruits, Jan 9, 2019

5 steps to improving berry production using Cravo automatic retractable orchard covering systems

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Retractable roof control strategy for cherries.

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Book summarizing the 30 years of experience and history of the retractable roof houses, 3rd edition

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30 White Swan Road
Brantford, Ontario, N3T 5L4
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