Microwave radar counts cranberries to reduce the labor in yield estimation


In Wisconsin, counting cranberries is a time-consuming and laborious endeavor that yields important information about everything from berry quality to the projected harvest. “We freeze almost the entire crop and cranberries are processed throughout the year,” says Ben Tilberg, a scientist with the grower-owned cooperative Ocean Spray Cranberries.  “Not only do we need to gauge our freezer capacity, we also want to make sure the best fruit goes into the freezer.”

To improve on the need to pick all of the fruit in a square-foot area and then hand-count the berries, microwave radar automates the counting process — without having to pick any berries, and with the potential to paint a more accurate picture of the crop and the harvest as a whole.

Using data collected in fall 2017, the algorithms used to convert the measured microwave signals into estimates of cranberry numbers are being optimized for more testing in 2018.