Semantic segmentation for partially occluded apple trees based on deep learning

Zijue Chen, David Ting, Rhys Newbury, Chao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Fruit tree pruning and fruit thinning require a powerful vision system that can provide high resolution segmentation of the fruit trees and their branches. Recent works only consider the dormant season where there are minimal occlusions on the branches or fit a polynomial curve to reconstruct branch shape, losing information about branch thickness. In this work, we apply two state-of-the-art supervised learning models: U-Net and DeepLabv3, and a conditional Generative Adversarial Network Pix2Pix (with and without the discriminator) to segment partially occluded 2D-open-V apple trees. Binary accuracy, Mean IoU, Boundary F1 score and Occluded branch recall are used to evaluate the performances of the models. DeepLabv3 outperforms the other models in Binary accuracy, Mean IoU and Boundary F1 score, but is surpassed by Pix2Pix (without discriminator) and U-Net in Occluded branch recall. We define two difficulty indices to quantify the difficulty of the task: (1) Occlusion Difficulty Index and (2) Depth Difficulty Index. The worst 10 images are analyzed in both difficulty indices by means of Branch Recall and Occluded Branch Recall. U-Net outperforms the other two models in the current metrics. On the other hand, Pix2Pix (without discriminator) provides more information on branch paths, which is not reflected by the metrics. This highlights the need for more specific metrics on recovering occluded information. Future work is required to further enhance the models to recover more information from occlusions such that this technology can be applied to automating agricultural tasks in a commercial environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105952
Number of pages7
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Branch segmentation
  • Deep learning
  • DeepLabv3
  • Machine vision
  • Pix2Pix
  • Semantic segmentation

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