Dec 29, 2016
Yield monitors measure variation in juice grapes

Senior Research Associate Terry Bates from the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland, New York, is currently testing electronic yield monitors on mechanical grape harvesters to measure the yield variation within a vineyard block.  A yield monitor uses sensors to approximate weight and GPS location in real-time. To calibrate sensor data, actual truck weights are compared to logged sensor data.  “Yield maps” provide a visual representation of spatial yield patterns.

Yield differences across a vineyard can be caused by several factors such as differences in soil type and plant nutrient uptake, previous season crop stress, insect or disease pressure, or a cultural practice like pruning level. The spatial vineyard maps are an excellent tool for growers to visualize differences and scout their vineyards to identify the cause of the variation. From there, a vineyard manager can develop a variable rate management strategy to improve the production in weak areas and efficiently maintain production in stronger areas.

Tracking yield variation is just one use of yield maps.  Growers can also make data-based decisions with these maps. Crop estimation, thinning and nutrient requirements are all related to yield.  Differentially managing these practices is possible with yield maps.

The next step is a visual illustration of profit margin. Maps begin with upfront capital cost of the technology and baseline costs of vineyard management. Growers then use yield maps to change production practices or manage a vineyard differentially. When these changes impact costs, we can map them. It serves as a tool to audit the grower’s decisions and analyze the benefits of the technology.

Kevin Martin, a Penn State Extension educator describes the net margin map provided to a local grower, “A map can show a block that is underperforming similar blocks, when comparing profit margin. There is often a concentration of profitable areas as well as areas producing significant losses.”

Efficient Vineyard is a global effort to improve the performance of vineyards, particularly those geared toward bulk production. The project is funded by USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative. More information on the research and extension team, sensors and the project can be found at

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a cooperative effort between Cornell and Penn State universities; the participating Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus counties in New York and Erie County in Pennsylvania; and participating industry partners National Grape Cooperative (Welch’s), Constellation Brands and Walkers Fruit Basket. The LERGP Extension team provides research-based educational programming for commercial grape growers throughout the year at venues across the Lake Erie grape belt. For more information on LERGP, call 716-792-2800 or visit

Luke Haggerty and Kevin Martin, Cornell University

Source: Lake Erie Regional Grape Program

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