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Modelling apple tree productivity in New Zealand: from grapes to apples

Dr. Junqi Zhu, an expert in plant modelling, is applying his extensive experience in the architectural development of wheat and maize to the digital horticultural domain, focusing on apple trees. After studying grapevines in INRAe Bordeaux, France, and working on vine and fruit modelling, Zhu joined Plant & Food Research in Marlborough, New Zealand.

His previous work includes modelling the impact of weather conditions on Sauvignon Blanc grape yield, enabling more accurate yield estimates. Zhu is now developing a model for apple trees, dissecting the environmental influences on tree health and the interaction between plant growth and the accumulation of quality markers such as dry matter and sugar levels.

Challenges include training colleagues to manipulate the model, incorporating apple physiology, and refactoring the model to be a general fruit-crop framework. Zhu aims to have a base model ready by mid-year for adaptation to different scenarios and use with both apples and grapes. He said, ā€œIt is also possible that in the future we will extend it to include the likes of cherry trees and possibly kiwifruit.ā€

Source: plantandfood.com

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