The feasibility of two nondestructive methods based on image processing techniques was assessed for fruit tree research. The methods were evaluated in a 2-year (2011 and 2012) field experiment, during which various irrigation and soil management treatments were set up in a commercial peach orchard. Canopy image analysis was conducted using two approaches, namely the orthoimage and the lateral image technique. The proposed methods were compared with other classical measurements such as trunk diameter (TD) increase and pruning weight (PW). Orthoimage canopy area (OCA) analysis resulted in a reliable and sensitive technique to study the active crop growth along the growing season. The OCA values obtained were highly correlated with TD measurements (r2 = 0.88), thus describing an exponential significant model (y = 0.0997 e0.0521x). Cumulative crop growth was determined using the virtual pruning (VP) technique. VP estimates were well correlated with fruit tree PWs during 2011 (r2 = 0.86) and 2012 (r2 = 0.80). The nondestructive image-based techniques proved sensitive to crop growth and useful for the study of fruit tree canopies. On the basis of our results, we conclude that the proposed image analysis methods are valuable new approaches with wide applications in fruit tree research.
This study describes the effects of mechanical harvesting and irrigation on quality in ‘Arbequina’ olive oil (Olea europaea L.). Irrigation treatments included a control, deficit irrigation (DI) during pit hardening, and subsurface deficit irrigation (SDI). Results showed that mechanical harvesting damaged the olives and reduced olive oil quality by increasing free fatty acids (FFAs) and peroxide value, and by decreasing fruitiness, stability, bitterness, and pungency. DI resulted in increased fruit dry weight and oil content, which could be explained by their reduced crop load (9.3% of crop reduction for DI and 23.9% for SDI). DI did not affect olive oil characteristics, whereas SDI increased stability, fruitiness, and bitterness, and decreased polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs). In conclusion, mechanical harvesting tended to damage the fruit, resulting in lower quality olive oil, the DI strategy neither affected fruit nor olive oil characteristics, whereas the SDI strategy positively affected oil quality when greater water restrictions were applied.