Aiming to be at the forefront of new developments in citrus production related science and technology Firstfruits provides the following Technical Services to optimize yield and quality.  For more information contact us to request a consultation.

Precision Soil Sampling

Soil samples are taken on a grid (0.25 ha, 0.5 ha, 2 ha or 3 ha) with GPS coordinates of each sample logged. Following sample analysis, recommendations are made per sample point to correct soil nutrient imbalances and pH. Maps displaying analysis values per parameter and recommendations per ameliorant are generated, including shape files for a GPS enabled orchard spreader. Soil amelioration on a grid basis with differential GPS enabled spreader is far more accurate than conventional methods, as it applies the correct ameliorants where they are needed, as opposed to blanket applications which create further imbalances.

Analysis Scheme

Firstfruits has a leaf analysis scheme for annual leaf sampling. Sample forms, set up according to laboratory requirements, are populated with the clients’ data. Pre-labelled leaf and soil sampling bags are supplied to the client along with the pre-populated sample form. After sampling by the client, a free courier service (>10 samples) collects the samples on the farm for transport to the lab. This process ensures a quick turnaround time at the lab and ensures there are no errors with labelling of samples. After analysis, Firstfruits screens the data for lab errors and sends the verified results to the client. A report for interpretation of leaf results is also provided. Due to bulk discount received by Firstfruits, clients receive a discounted analysis rate which is lower than the lab rate for direct clients. Sampling can also be conducted by Firstfruits technicians at an additional cost.

Fruit Measurements

Weekly fruit measurements are taken by trained technicians on a grid basis laid out without bias for an accurate representation of crop load and fruit size. Fruit size is reported periodically (frequency as per client requirement) throughout the season per orchard. Data can be presented in the following formats:

  1. Weekly average on a fruit growth curve where actual fruit growth is plotted against an ideal curve.
  2. Pie-charts that indicate expected final fruit size distribution,
  3. Fruit size and density maps using GIS software, showing variations in crop load and fruit size throughout the orchard.

Firstfruits can supply corrective recommendations related to thinning of fruit, nutrition and irrigation in response to sub-optimal fruit growth rates.

Irrigation Scheduling

Effective irrigation scheduling is the biggest factor in citrus production to ensure high yields of export quality fruit. Firstfruits monitors and adjusts the parameters (lines) set up in scheduling software that receives data from soil moisture probes, using a three pronged approach of theoretical requirement, soil moisture feel test data and data from scheduling software to ensure lines are set correct and irrigation scheduling is performed optimally.

Supervision of Citrus Pruning Teams

Firstfruits provides a trained and experienced pruning supervisor to ensure correct and effective pruning implementation after a demo by a Firstfruits consultant. The supervisor remains with the workers for a day or more as required, guiding and training the producer’s pruning staff.

pH & EC Analysis of Soil and Water

Soil and water samples can be sent to our offices where basic pH and EC analysis is done in our lab. A Firstfruits technician can be requested to conduct sampling if required.

Conventional Soil and Leaf Sampling
Trained technicians take yearly soil and leaf samples in February and March as well as out of season samples as per client requirements. Samples are taken in the required orchards/fields from marked data rows using correct sampling protocol. Analysis results from an accredited lab are sent directly to the Firstfruits technical team to screen data for lab errors before sending to the client.

Water Sampling

Sampling is performed by a certified technician, ensuring correct sampling protocol is followed. Samples are delivered to the laboratory within the required time-frame and within prescribed temperature limits.

GIS Soil and leaf sampling

Soil and / or leaf samples are collected by a technician using a GPS to log data rows, ensuring samples can be collected from the same rows yearly. This ensures credible, comparative (yearly) data for sensible interpretation of analysis results.

Scouting and Scout Training
Firstfruits has a well trained and experienced pest scout who does scouting and monitors trap counts (for a period as required) on a weekly basis on producer’s farms, while training their staff to do this crucial task effectively. Scouts can attend periodic courses at Firstfruit’s office conducted by specialists in the field of crop protection.