2021 ALMOND POLLINATION RECAP

Updated: Apr 28

With a blanket of white flower petals coating the orchard floor like snow, standing among the almond trees after pollination, your senses are bombarded. The sweet, strangely ammonia-like smell of the nectar; the vibrant reflection of the petals in the sunlight; the eerie silence lingering in the air—a remnant of the chaotic feeding frenzy that had recently taken place. The bees’ work is complete, at least for now.


Last month, we closed the books on another almond pollination season, our third year pioneering a new and improved method of measuring pollination value, using science and technology to replace the subjective and labor-intensive methods of old. The following is a recap of our third season grading hives with Verifli.


Headlines


Model Accuracy Achieves Record Performance


The backbone of Verifli is our predictive model. The model converts an IR image into a colony size measurement that gets reported to customers. This season, we double-checked our accuracy by manually inspecting a sample of the hives graded with Verifli. Through these inspections, we confirmed for each of our growers that Verifli results matched up with manual inspections. We're very encouraged by this success and we're excited to move away from manual hive checks next season.


>400% Increase in Hives Graded

We graded over 5 times more hives this season than in 2020! We couldn't possibly have achieved such a drastic jump in volume without comprehensive performance enhancements our software team built last year. Among other benefits, those enhancements allowed us to process thousands of images each day and resulted in much faster load speed for our customers' Verifli.com hive strength dashboards.


The map on the right shows the location of every hive graded with Verifli this season across California's Central Valley.





Stats from the season


Our team mounted a herculean effort to complete our busiest season ever this February. Here's a look at some of the most eye-catching numbers:

  • 3,600+ Work hours

  • 16 Airbnbs, 1 hotel room

  • 15,000+ Miles driven

  • Enough caffeine to kill an elephant

  • 1 Overheated truck

  • 1 Broken [rear] windshield (don't ask)

  • 2 Trucks stuck in mud

  • 0 COVID-19 cases

  • 1 Celebrity pep talk


What’s next


New crop pilots

Almonds are the big leagues when it comes to pollination, but it’s not the only crop that relies on bees. Since the stakes are higher in almonds, the industry has catalyzed much of the latest research into understanding and optimizing pollination. We aim to bring the know-how we gained from almond pollination to other bee-pollinated crops that have been slower to invest in improving pollination.


Model improvements

Verifli’s hive strength predictions were more accurate than ever this season, but there’s always room to improve. We’ll continue to collect data throughout the year to strengthen the model, targeting a wider range of environmental conditions. We might not be able to co-opt the Postal Service’s promise to deliver regardless of rain, sleet or snow, but we aim to produce reliable hive strength results when the weather doesn’t cooperate.


New software features

Our customers raved about the new features we introduced to the Verifli hive strength dashboard this season, including printable reports, improved mapping and more ways for users to customize their report. We’ve got a long list of exciting new feature ideas on our roadmap this year—stay tuned for some teasers once we’ve sketched everything out!


Final thoughts


Though this was our most successful season by a long shot, we still ran into a handful of new obstacles that we hadn’t anticipated. We have plenty of room for improvement across the board, and we’ll spend the rest of this year implementing solutions to avoid, anticipate or overcome next season’s obstacles.


Thanks to our customers, partners, friends and colleagues for all your support in the past 5 years!


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