The project involves exploring the opportunities to automate and speed up the winter pruning of dried-fruit cordons.
Dried fruit is grown on growths shooting from a well-established horizontal ‘cordon’. Pruning is done in two stages. The fruiting stems are pruned using a mechanised system in autumn with the fruit still attached, with a short stub spur left. This spur is later pruned back to the cordon in the winter. This second pruning is done manually.
Winter pruning is one of the biggest time and labour consuming activity in dried grape production. The requirement for manual pruning increases costs and limits the scale of production possible. This is a constraint on expansion and limits the ability to win economies of scale.
This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dried Fruits Australia. The project targets development of a mechanised approach to semi-automate the winter pruning to improve the speed of pruning as this would reduce the cost of production and increase the area that a sole producer can manage.
Dr Robert Ross
Director RAMPS Research Laboratory
Department of Engineering
La Trobe University
Consultant Field Officer
Dried Fruits Australia