Komati Fruit Group turns to SeeTree to improve Orchard Development Methods

Alex Rudinsky
March 16, 2022

About Komati Fruit Group

Komati Fruits
Komati Logo

Komati's story began on the banks of the Letaba River, where the founder, Theodore Maximillian Thalwitzer Snr., established his first farm in 1954. Over the decades, Theodore and his son Milaan (Theodore Maximillian Jnr.), dedicated themselves to expanding Komati Fruit Group, turning it into a leading South African agricultural company.

So how is Komati Fruit Group different?

The business now includes a nursery, multiple packinghouses, and farms in different climatic zones throughout South Africa, producing citrus, mangoes, lychees, avocados, bananas, macadamia, sugarcane, and blueberries. Komati Fruit Group prides itself on implementing sustainable farming practices through:

Komati farm landscape view
Panorama of a Farm managed by Komati Fruit Group

1. Nurturing healthy soil

2. Incorporating irrigation management for greater water efficiency

3. Employing an integrated pest and disease management program for targeted pest control and minimal environmental harm

Today, the farming company exports 5.5 million citrus cartons yearly to over 30 countries worldwide.

The CHALLENGE: Planning orchard succession to ensure ample fruit production

With big production comes big challenges, and Komati Fruit Group faced some very large challenges in planning its orchard succession. They needed to plant the appropriate number of trees to produce enough fruit per hectare. Overplanting or underplanting could result in insufficient fruit production, inefficient usage of resources, and overspending. The agricultural company had to order rootstocks for infilling - the process of planting new young trees in vacant areas. Infilling demands a meticulous process of evaluating the quality of the soil, trimming surrounding tree canopies, and spacing the trees with adequate room for growth.

Upon making these time-consuming calculations, Komati Fruit Group ordered its rootstocks, but its go-to plant nursery lacked the required rootstock supply. At this point, Komati Fruit Group turned to SeeTree, looking for practical solutions to their pressing problems.

SeeTree solves Komati Fruit Group’s infilling predicament

Komati agronomist Braam Ehlers and food production director Marinus Neethling shares:

“The SeeTree platform enabled us to accurately determine the number of trees needed for infilling and the areas best suited for infilling.”

SeeTree’s app shows real-time, topographical maps of each field, highlighting the zones with healthy soil and adequate infilling space. (See photo below)

Tree Health View - showing trees to be infilled

The app also includes an indexing feature that enables farmers to calculate the space between each tree, allowing farmers to choose their spacing preferences based on their production needs. SeeTree’s “canopy size report” helps streamline the infilling process, showing farmers which tree canopies to trim before planting new rootstocks. (See photo)

Canopy Report

THE IMPACT: New, more cost-effective infilling

Equipped with the necessary data, Komati Fruit Group could order the precise number of rootstocks they needed - fewer rootstocks than they'd initially ordered. With a smaller order to fill, the nursery could meet Komati Fruit Group's needs.Using the SeeTree App, Komati Fruit Group farmers now knew how many rootstocks to purchase, how far apart to space each tree, and which tree canopies to trim. Overall, the SeeTree platform helped Komati Fruit Group to:

1.Reduce its spending costs across the board

2.Engage in more efficient agricultural practices

3.Effectively plan orchard succession

4.Ensure adequate fruit production per hectare

Want to learn more about how SeeTree is helping farmers get the most out of every orchard?
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