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Tech helping growth of California prunes

Innovative technologies and longstanding partnerships help growers ensure quality and sustainability
Ripe blue purple plums in the plum garden. Agriculture Haversting background. manny ripe fruits in plantation. Ripe plums in orchad.

Prunes are a popular commodity these days, as consumers turn to foods that help their gut health, bone strength and cardiovascular well-being. As strong growth is forecast for the category, the California Prune Board says growers are blending new technologies and longstanding practices to help the U.S. maintain its status as a category leader. 

Their efforts include continued research and partnerships with leading universities and experts to support practices that improve yield, quality and sustainability. 

For example, water management has long been a focus, with growers collaborating with the University of California Cooperative Extension to explore irrigation methods. Today, state-of-the-art sensors, data and modelling help growers make decisions around irrigation amount and timing. For example, growers can monitor soil conditions through sensors and adjust irrigation schedules using a smartphone app. 

“California Prune growers have always been adaptable and innovative in their approach to dealing with challenges, whether that is drought, disease or pests,” said Donn Zea, executive director for the California Prune Board, in a release. “With changing weather patterns, our focus on efficient irrigation as an adaptation strategy has enabled California to remain the world’s leader in producing the highest quality, great-tasting prunes.” 

The California Prune Board also works with UC Davis on developing new varieties that reduce drying costs, lengthen bloom time to mitigate the risk of weather-related bloom issues and extend harvest time to help with labour constraints. 

Away from the orchards, data and weather patterns are analyzed, with predictive analytics used to help forecast yield and optimize resource allocation. 

“We grow, harvest and process safely, responsibly and sustainably to ensure California Prunes remain prized for their size, quality and taste, setting the standard for discerning consumers worldwide,” Donn said. 


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