This paper outlines some of the challenges and opportunities for whole plant and crop physiologists to contribute to enhanced and more efficient fruit production in the coming years. The rapid advances in molecular biology provide both an opportunity (especially to improve understanding of physiological processes in crop production) and a challenge (to use this knowledge to advance production in real farm situations). Similar or even greater opportunities are being provided by other developing technologies, especially the rapidly increasing power and availability of powerful computing and communications technology and smartphones which provide real opportunities to contribute to improved crop and farm management. In addition the rapid development of novel 'remote' or 'proximal' sensing technologies, including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and on-tractor sensors for crop monitoring and stress diagnosis also holds great promise. These and other advances are discussed in the context of their potential for improving both crop breeding and orchard management, drawing on examples from a wide range of crops. The potential of these scientific advances will be put in the context of other factors relating to the advance of horticultural knowledge including the availability of funding and the training of young scientists.