An Optimal Control Model of Crop Thinning in Viticulture
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We develop an economic model of cluster thinning in viticulture to control for grape quantity harvested and grape quality, applying a simple optimal control model with the aim to raise grape quality and related economic profits. The model maximizes vineyard owner profits and allows to discuss two relevant scenarios using a phase diagram analysis: (1) when the initial grape quantity is sufficiently small, thinning grapes will not be optimal and (2) when the initial grape quantity is high enough, it is optimal to thin grapes from the beginning of the relevant planning horizon and to reduce the quantity over time until the stock of grapes arrives at its optimum. Depending on the model's parameters, the “stopping time” for thinning grapes is reached sooner or later. After the stopping time, grape quantity evolves solely according to natural decay. The results relate to observed dynamics in viticulture and for other horticultural crops.