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Horticulture & Landscape Architecture > Hirst Lab
Purdue Pomology

Dr. Peter HirstWelcome to the lab of Dr. Peter Hirst at Purdue University. As Indiana’s tree fruit extension specialist, Dr. Hirst works with commercial growers to provide solutions to problems that growers may have. The extension program is supported by research that seeks to understand the physiology of apples, and incorporates both applied and more basic aspects. Lab members hail from five countries across three continents and bring a diverse cultural and educational background to the lab.





Purdue Horticultural society summer meeting to welcome fruit growers

​WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Indiana Horticultural Society summer meeting will focus on all tree fruit, grape and berry crops through tours and demonstrations on June 23 at Purdue University's Meigs Horticultural Research Farm.

The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and focus on sprayer calibration, determining the quality of spray water and exhibitor introductions in the morning. The meeting will conclude at 8 p.m. after the following tours:  * Dwarf apple tree management. * Avoiding... Read More

Prune fruit trees into shape

​Thursday, April 23, 2015 3:00 PM

GOSHEN, Ind. — A crowd gathered in a field A young apple blossom starts to show at Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard. The Twilight Fruit Growers Meeting was April 16 at Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard.  Pruning is both an art form and a science. There are several different approaches growers can take to prune fruit trees. The No. 1 mistake growers make? Damaging vulnerable, young trees by excessive pruning — which affects growth later in the tree’s... Read More

“Edward Scissorhands” Replacing Hand Pruning

​Two projects are underway in the Midwest to test and expand the use of mechanical grape vine pruning. One project in Wisconsin will evaluate mechanical rough pruning for cold climate hybrids. Another research project at Purdue University is looking at cutting edge technology to perform finer pruning using robotics.

 During 2012, David Danzinger of Danzinger Vineyards in Alma, Wisconsin secured a grant from the USDA to study mechanical grape pruning in Wisconsin. The... Read More

The Robots are Coming

​The day before Halloween, I wrote a story about Pleasanton, Calif.-based Adept Technology Inc., whose automated ClamPAC system is now being used to pack clamshells at San Juan Batista, Calif.-based Earthbound Farm.

The next night, following my kids around the dark streets of our neighborhood, I was just a tiny bit afraid of running into someone in a Terminator costume.

Are robots taking over? Should we be scared?

For the fresh produce industry, the answers to... Read More

Purdue gets $6 million to develop robotic pruning for grapes, apples

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University researchers received $6 million in grants to automate one of the most laborious and costly jobs in vineyards and apple orchards.

Each year, fruit growers spend about 20 percent of their labor costs on pruning vines and trees. Peter Hirst, an associate professor of horticulture, is leading a program to develop and improve machines that use cameras and robotic arms to do the work.

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