CNY apple orchard first in the world to use drone for pollination

Local News

The first apple orchard in the world to be pollinated by drones is right here in Central New York.

Beak & Skiff has teamed up with GENIUS NY 2.0 finalist Dropcopter to use the company’s Worker Bee pollinator.

Its quite a change for Beak & Skiff, which for 107 years has used bees to pollinate the orchards.

The Worker Bee pollinator was tested on about seven of Beak & Skiff’s 400 acres of apple orchard.

Pete Fleckenstein is the ‎Director of Fresh Fruit Operations at Beak & Skiff Orchards.

“Excitement over the technology, but also optimism that one less weather related event I have to worry about every spring.”  He tells NewsChannel 9.

When the flowers bloom each May, Fleckenstein says the window for pollination can be as short as 4 days, like it was this year and if it gets too cold, bees don’t fly potentially missing out on these small windows for pollination.

Dropcopter, a California company working out of the Syracuse Tech Garden now, came in during this flash bloom to test out its technology.

“We’ve never had a problem getting ahold of pollen.  It was shipped out from the West Coast and I received it and we weigh it out into specific measurements we need and we apply it at the rate that’s been ordered.”  Dropcopter Co-Founder Adam Fine says.

The drone would hover about 8-feet above the trees delivering the necessary pollen more precisely than bees can do it.

“When you come across these technologies that are really solving a true problem in an industry in an agricultural setting like this its really exciting to see it come together.”  Says GENIUS NY Director Jon Parry.

Dropcopter right now is selling its technology as a supplement to the work bees can do.

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