California 4.9 million acre specialty crop market is larger than the rest of the country's combined


OAKLAND--Wednesday, June 26, 2019 -- Aerial imagery and analytics company, Ceres Imaging announced that it now services more than 15% of California’s 4.9 million specialty acres. The milestone marks the maturation of a once small and fragmented market for aerial imagery in agriculture. 

The California specialty crop market is bigger than the rest of the country combined, and Ceres Imaging estimates that this recent milestone means that it now commands more than half of the aerial imagery market in the state.

Previous years have seen a large number of imagery startups compete for a small pool of interested growers, representing limited acreage and a small market value. This latest milestone by Ceres Imaging⁠—which benefitted from being named a THRIVE AgTech top-50 company⁠—demonstrates that the imagery market has not only grown considerably, but that growers will increasingly seek out the highest accuracy provider.

“When we started working in California, the market was flooded with many companies selling drones as well as plane-based imagery services.  We focused our research on water and nutrient management and validated our science through extensive university partnerships with UC Davis and others.  As the market has started to mature, Ceres Imaging’s reputation of highly accurate analysis and timely delivery has set us apart,” said Ceres Imaging CEO Ashwin Madgavkar.

Citing a commitment to grower trust, the company has resisted pressure to expand prematurely, offering additional crop types and imagery products only after validation in research and trial settings. For example last fall, Ceres Imaging debuted its in-season yield prediction product, the Cumulative Stress Index, only after years of trials with research institutions and select customers like Olam International.  

The 15% milestone was precipitated by a new partnership with Filice Farms, a Salinas Valley based vegetable grower. Leadership at Filice Farms cited the emphasis on scientific rigor in its decision to move forward with Ceres Imaging. 

“While we’ve seen other imagery providers in the past, we went with Ceres Imaging because the accuracy of their insights,” said Filice Farms Manager Joe Newman. “If we’re going to invest in this service, it’s important that the imagery provides us with answers to our issues, not more questions.  We think Ceres is the only imagery company that does this.”

Madgavkar attributes the rising market share in part to the state’s growers themselves, who he says are not inclined to heed hype without results.

“Growers are always talking to each other and sharing stories about what’s working and what’s not. Much of our growth comes from customers that are dissatisfied with the accuracy or usability of other providers. Because of this, many of the major providers that we used to go up against have shifted resources away from the California market,” Madgavkar says. 

Ceres Imaging defines its market share milestone as specialty acres serviced within the last year. This calculation differs from total acreage numbers provided by other aerial imagery providers, which can include acreage flown but not actually purchased, acreage that’s not actually active farmland, or duplicate flights over the same acreage.

About Ceres Imaging:

Ceres Imaging is a precision agriculture company that helps growers and farm advisors make proactive decisions using aerial imagery and data analytics.  Backed by university-validated science, Ceres Imaging uses proprietary sensors, analytics, machine learning models and plant science to help growers gain a more comprehensive picture of their farm. Ceres Imaging takes the guesswork out of in-season decision making and supports its customers with expert agronomists and local customer support.

Media Contact:

Brent Shelton

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The difference between Ceres Imaging and other technologies I've used is the help I get from their expert team.
Jake Samuel, Partner
Samuel Farms
With Ceres Imaging we can take a more targeted approach to applying fertilizer and nutrients.
Brian Fiscalini, Owner
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These flights can cover way more ground and provide more insight than a dozen soil moisture probes — and it's cheaper to implement.
Patrick Pinkard, Assistant Manager
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The average Ceres Imaging conductance measurement from its imagery over the season has provided the best correlation with applied water.
Blake Sanden
University of California Cooperative Extension