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Pistachio growers now have an online device they can use to predict the size of their harvest.

The Pistachio Predictor Calculator will help growers with their harvest, market and budget planning, said Shawn Ashkan, an agricultural engineer at Fresno State.

He said the main goal of the online device is for farmers to be able to predict their pistachio yield early in the season — particularly by the end of winter.

“Pistachio growers need this tool to estimate the yield for the current yield for the harvest equipment, planning, for the storage, and for the pricing to compete in the international market.” — Shawn Ashkan, Fresno State agricultural engineer

Ashkan, with help from Gurreet Brar, a Fresno State plant science professor, created the calculator to fill a void in the pistachio industry.

“Pistachio growers need this tool to estimate the yield for the current yield for the harvest equipment, planning, for the storage, and for the pricing to compete in the international market,” Ashkan said.

Calculator Utilizes Machine Learning

Before the pistachio predictor calculator, Ashkan said there wasn’t another tool available for farmers.

“They did not have this tool handy,” Ashkan said. “Each grower had to go by his or her own experience and look at the orchard from the previous yield and make an estimate.”

Although it is difficult to gauge how accurate the calculator is given that it just launched last month, Ashkan said it can improve over time by feeding it more data.

“It is based on machine learning so the more data you collect and incorporate into the tool, the better results you get,” Ashkan said.

To get a predicted yield, pistachio farmers must enter several recent online chill portion totals from their orchard’s nearest or a representative California Irrigation Management Information Systems station, the previous year’s per acre yield, and if the crop is expected to be higher or lower based on its naturally alternating cycle.

Growers Use Their Own Data

The calculator’s ease of use is what Ashkan admires most.

“Growers don’t need to use any data, just their own yield data,” Ashkan said.

California has over 312,000 acres of pistachio orchards that account for 99 percent of the domestic pistachio supply.

The San Joaquin Valley is the state’s leading production area of the crop that was first grown commercially in the United States in 1976. Growers accounted for a record 900 million pound harvest nationally in 2016.

For more information, contact Ashkan at (559) 278-8652 or sashkan@csufresno.edu.

Watch How to Calculate Pistachio Yields

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